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Posts Tagged ‘law’

This is a moral crusade, dressed up as concern for women.  –  RCMP Superintendent John Ferguson

The Scarlet Letter

In Anaheim, California, anyone convicted of buying sexual services will have their names and mug shots indefinitely posted to a city web page…The Anaheim district attorney’s office says the scarlet HTML is meant to deter sex traffickers, which makes about as much sense as posting jaywalker mugshots in order to deter car thieves…”Public shaming as a form of punishment goes back to the days of Puritan colonists,” writes Los Angeles Times‘ Emily Foxhall…even…Melissa Farley…[admits] she’s unaware of any evidence that this kind of shaming results in long-term behavior change…

Follow the Leader

In September 2012, President Obama issued an executive order asserting a zero tolerance policy for government contractors who violated human trafficking laws.  He specifically targeted recruitment fees that workers in southeast Asia frequently pay for work with military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq…recruitment fees essentially create a system of indentured servitude.  Workers usually take out high-interest loans in their home country to pay the fee, and the payments can trap them in their new jobs.  Recruiters often mislead workers about their salary and the location of their job—promises of high-paying jobs in Jordanian hotels turn into custodial positions on U.S. military bases in warzones…The government says it has a zero tolerance policy, and yet there’s fairly credible allegations that these guys have been involved in trafficking and they continue to win government contracts,” says Steven Watt…at the ACLU…

See No Evil confused Pooh

Do Polish stuffed animal toys usually come with genitals?

Winnie the Pooh…has been banned from a Polish playground because of confusion about his sexuality and consternation at his attire.  Council members were debating which character should become the face of a new playground in the small town of Tuszyn, and…some on the board raised questions about Pooh’s “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” attire, and one even condemned the fictional character as a “hermaphrodite”…Ryszard Cichy…[said] “It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children…Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up”…[another council member fantasized that A.A. Milne]…”cut [Pooh’s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity”…

Scapegoats

Maybe this guy thought it was a genital-equipped Polish stuffed horse?

[Florida] police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man in a troubling case of alleged indecent exposure. Police accuse Sean Johnson of entering a Walmart…and committing a sex act on a stuffed horse…[then] putting [it] back on the shelf…

Above the Law 

A woman says she was raped in jail by a Ferguson [jail guard] while she was pregnant last year, according to a federal lawsuit…against the city and…Jaris Hayden…[who] now faces four felony charges…[the victim had been arrested because her] license plates were expired…and…During [her] booking, Hayden said to her, “You smell good,” and, “This will teach you a lesson”…

Useful Idiots 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein…is once again attempting to swell federal power and erode civil liberties by preying on fears about sexual exploitation….[with] the Combat Human Trafficking Act, a bill that would expand federal and state wiretapping authority, mandate that the Department of Justice…spend more time investigating and prosecuting [sex workers’ clients]…and increase criminal penalties for buyers by legally defining them as human traffickers…this is going to lead to increased harassment of…sex workers and enhanced monitoring of any space where they congregate…the bill also provides a potential direct mandate for DOJ to target sex workers and their clients…Dianne FeinsteinFeinstein’s press [pretends that] “83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14″…Yes, they’re actually claiming that American citizens make up all but 13 percent of global sex trafficking victims. It’s a bold move even within the typically-dubious realm of sex-trafficking statistics (the idea that the average victim is first-trafficked at 12-years-old is also suspect)…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

This stinks on ice:

Little Rock Police have arrested a…[fireman] at a massage parlor after an undercover sting. Edwin Harris…worked at a business called Asian Massage…a female undercover detective paid for a massage in which she says Harris engaged in sexual contact…Harris was the only person charged at the business…

Social Construction of Eunuchs (TW3 #48)

Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state…to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality…their study…will also include analysis of developers already working to promote diversity and gender-equality in order to help others learn from their experience.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (TW3 #338)

Dancers at a strip club are due more than $10 million in back wages and tips, a federal judge ruled…And additional claims are headed for trial in the class action case, meaning there ultimately could be further awards to roughly 1,900 women who worked at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan between 2005 and 2012…Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., said it planned to appeal…

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

How much higher can this nonsense go?bogus trafficking map

Nearly 36 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as slaves, a survey by…Walk Free says…India has the most slaves overall and Mauritania has the highest percentage. The total is 20% higher than for 2013 because of [broader] methodology. The report…uses slavery in [the inflammatory] modern [misuse] of the term, rather than [correctly]…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

A 14-year-old [South African] girl could be charged with perjury after lying about being held against her will and sold as a sex slave by her aunt…following her mother’s death…The teen alleged that her aunt later locked her in a room with six old men and one of them raped her…it was later established that the teenager had fabricated the story…

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #405)

Would anyone but a modern American “journalist” portray intercourse as a new and novel way to get pregnant?

Once upon a time, when single women and infertile couples wanted a baby, they would pay a sperm bank…thousands of dollars…But now…donors make their sperm available by offering to have sex for free. It’s a surprising — and some say unconventional — method of making a baby called “natural insemination”…

Finding What Isn’t There (TW3 #413) John Ferguson

few can agree on how widespread [sex trafficking] is, or how best to address it.  This troubles former RCMP superintendent John Ferguson:  “Are there victims?  Yes.  Is this a systemic problem?  The evidence tells us no.”  (Between 2005 and 2009, the RCMP reviewed 242 potential international human-trafficking cases, but made no convictions.)  He points to the absence of information:  Canada has no standardized system for the collection of such data.  Ferguson also points to a 2003 RCMP report that claimed each year 600 women and girls are trafficked into the country for forced sex work; the report has since been discarded by the RCMP itself…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The use of Backpage.com as a tool to catch criminals represents an interesting paradox.  While its critics deplore the ease and visibility the site offers to [sex workers]…those exact qualities make the site invaluable for people looking to [persecute them]…A small but growing number of law enforcement…begrudgingly defend Backpage…Three states have tried to take down [the site with unconstitutional] laws that…Backpage.com successfully [challenged]…and…the SAVE Act is almost certainly not legally viable for the same reasons…

Not What They Expected

Prince George’s County bucks the trend by claiming its “sex trafficking” rate has gone down…which is, of course, as much of a lie as the “King of the Hill” idiocy:

For the second consecutive year, Prince George’s County should see a reduction in human trafficking and prostitution, according to…police…Sgt. David Coleman…attributes the downward trend to the work of his unit and cross-agency initiatives like the county’s Human Trafficking Task force…“When we create a hostile business environment, it moves elsewhere.”

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Bill C-36…has everything to do with moralism and pearl-clutching white saviours in Ottawa forcing a socially conservative agenda through…This is the same government trying to kill C-279, a bill that would ensure trans people are protected under…hate crimes provisions…Sex workers have started a letter-writing campaign to ask [Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne to refer the law to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference…[and] to instruct provincial Crown Attorneys not to enforce the new law until the Ontario court has ruled on its constitutionality.  Terri-Jean Bedford was the first to ask Wynne to intervene last month.  Next, sex worker rights advocate Nikki Thomas posted her own open letter.  And another.  And another.  Legal experts across Canada call the law blatantly unconstitutional…[Manitoba] actually plans to send sex workers to “camps” for “educational workshops”  hosted by the evangelical Salvation Army…Handing over our most vulnerable citizens to questionable religious groups has not ended well historically…Gay men and women should be the most vocal allies of sex workers. There was a time when the same arguments were made to keep being gay a criminal offence…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act…[which] would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients…and…expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements…The SAVE Act would…create extensive record-keeping requirements for any…service…that hosts adult advertisements…require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification…enable the Department of Justice…to ban certain “euphemisms” or “code words” from online advertising entirely, and…make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable…even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites…

Check Your Premises (TW3 #432)

It’s astonishing that supposedly rational adults in the Canadian government need this explained to them:

One of the lead detectives in the teen pimping investigation wants men who [hire] women for sex to ensure their clients [sic] are over 18 and are willing participants, but an advocate for sex workers warns doing so might put johns in an legal quandary…Carolyn Botting [imagines that sex workers will show clients their drivers’ licenses, but]…Chris Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said…the federal government’s new prostitution laws…will put johns in an awkward situation…“If in fact they do call police because they suspect someone is underage or in a situation of exploitation, they’re actually setting themselves up to be criminally charged”…

Soap Opera (TW3 #441) not a brand

In which a common type of tattoo is recast as a “brand”.

…Reliable statistics are [nonexistent], but [trafficking fanatics pretend that] hundreds of thousands of women and girls…are sold for sexual exploitation in America’s $9.5bn human-trafficking industry. According to the US Department of Justice, 300,000 of those at risk are children. Branding, whether by tattoo or intentional scarring, has become a disturbing characteristic of…Pimp-led prostitution…Polaris Project [pretends to have]…come across hundreds of women and children who have had their arms, backs, legs, faces, breasts and even eyelids and gums marked with pimp’s names and gang tags or with barcodes, sexual slang words or dollar signs…it is now systemic in America…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #446)

My beloved partner “Isabelle”…is a sex worker in Toronto…[who] lives in my home about half of the time…We occasionally buy things together.  We sometimes pool money for grocery trips.  Occasionally, one of us picks up something for the other at the corner store…A couple months ago, I had some unanticipated emergency expenses resulting in negative cash flow.  Isabelle jumped right in to save me, contributing her money to my monthly housing expense…In short, we’re partners…It’s…against the law as of Dec. 6.  Section 286.2 subsection 1 of the code specifically criminalizes “everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from (sex work).”  It’s an indictable offence, subject to a prison term of up to 10 years…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 26th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

As long-time readers know, I’m very fond of science fiction and fantasy; the difference between the two is that the latter describes a world which (by our understanding of the laws of the universe) could not actually exist, while the former describes a world which could but does not (at least yet).  As some have pointed out, though, the term “science fiction” is really too limited; very often the world described in such a story differs from our own not due to some scientific discovery or technical development, but in a social or cultural way.  For this reason, some writers and critics prefer the term “speculative fiction”, which broadens the genre to include things like alternate-history stories; my tale “For I Have Sinned”, for example, imagines what our modern world might be like had the Catholic Church won the Crusades and successfully suppressed the Protestant Reformation.  The story is an example of a type called a dystopia; while a “Utopia” is a fictional world better than our own1984 (at least in the writer’s estimation), a dystopia is one that is worse.  But just as the traditional science fiction of yesterday (e.g. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Destination Moon) can become the science fact of today, so can what was once the stuff of dystopian speculation become the true and horrible political reality.

The process is usually very gradual, just as technological development is; a poisonous idea becomes established in one place and spreads to others, expanding in scope once it’s in place.  The wicked Swedish model of prostitution law, which defines women as moral imbeciles and men as their evil oppressors, is sold to the delusional, the misandrist and the ignorant as a means of “protecting” women from dirty, bad sex, and though it has been repeatedly beaten back in England and Scotland it has now taken root in Northern Ireland:

The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted by 81 to 10 in favour of making it a crime to pay for sex…Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to vote in favour of the measure.  There is still some way to go before the bill becomes law, but the prospect of a ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland has taken a significant step forward…Opponents included Justice Minister David Ford who claimed it would be difficult to enforce…

“Difficult to enforce” is an understatement; the US has criminalized both the buying and selling of sex for a century now, and though only a tiny fraction of all such transactions are caught by police it takes “sting” operations and other violations of civil liberties to accomplish it.  In other words, even if you believe that stopping consensual behavior is somehow a good thing, prohibition can’t actually accomplish that.  It does, however, provide a useful excuse for the construction of a vast police state; “protecting children from porn” was the rationale for establishing the UK’s internet censorship regime, but it’s now being extended to allow suppression of any viewpoint of which “authorities” disapprove.  Nor will they be content with merely silencing such people:

People found guilty of Internet “trolling” in Britain could be jailed for up to two years…following a number of high-profile cases of abusive and threatening behaviour on Twitter.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling…[said] “This is a law to combat cruelty — and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”…last month a man was jailed for 18 weeks for what prosecutors described as “a campaign of hatred” against a [politician].  “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life…” Grayling said.  “That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence”…The government proposes to amend two existing laws to extend the maximum jail term and also the time limit for prosecutions, from six months to three years…

I edited this item to remove the cases politicians are using to win the support of the thoughtless and focus on their real motive: shielding politicians from criticism.  Thoughtcrime is now a very real offense in Britain; perhaps you read about this case:

Robul Hoque…[was convicted for] his collection of Japanese Manga or Anime-style images alone…His barrister Richard Bennett said:  “These are not what would be termed as paedophilic images.  These are cartoons”…Police found the images when they seized Hoque’s computer…none were of real people.  They were classified as prohibited images as they depicted young girls, some in school uniforms…exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity…Six years ago he was prosecuted for having “Tomb Raider-style” computer-generated pictures of fictional children…

That’s right, he was convicted for having drawings of a taboo subject.  Drawings.  And pay attention to that line about how they found the forbidden doodles, because their power to search you for “evidence” (or any other excuse) is increasing all the time:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.  The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct. 15…Britain’s gun owners were subject to the home visits before the update, but the inspection had to be conducted with prior notice…the Association of Chief Police Officers [claimed] the revamped guideline does not grant police any new powers…ACPO is also encouraging [informants] to call a new Crimestoppers hotline to report any [people they want harassed by police]…The Home Office is [pretending] that legitimate guns could easily be stolen and wind up in the hands of terrorists…

Of course, guns aren’t the only things which terrorists might use; knives, household chemicals, cars, computers, money…why, the list is endless!  Clearly the police need the power to “inspect the storage” of those things in private homes, without warning or warrant.  And if the owners aren’t home when they arrive, well, in the interests of national security the police should clearly be given the power to let themselves in, and if the place gets ransacked in the process you can be sure those in charge will dismiss any claims the householders make with the assurance that proper procedures were followed.

time machineAll of us are time travelers, and though the process is both slow and unidirectional, it inevitably brings us into a world very different from the one where we started.  Unfortunately, we cannot merely hop into the TARDIS and return to the past or visit a different future if we don’t like the one in which we find ourselves; we are stuck there, like it or not.  Tyrannies don’t materialize without warning overnight, nor are they usually imposed from outside any more; the world around us is a prison we have allowed the powerful to build, stone by stone and bar by bar.  They capitalized on our fears, our intolerance, our greed, our envy, our laziness and our wrath, and though we could have stopped them many times over we were always more concerned with what other people were saying, doing or thinking, and thus handed our self-proclaimed “leaders” the weapons they needed to dominate us all.  Welcome to the future, and if you think all the things I described above are hunky-dory just wait until the inexorable action of legal precedent brings your face under the boot next.

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Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve.  –  Shakespeare, Richard III (IV,iv)

If you’ve been reading me for a while you’ve noticed that I’m a bit persnickety about words.  OK, that’s an understatement; I can actually be downright maniacal about them.  But as I pointed out in “Nasty Words”,

As a writer, words are my tools, and I cherish them and baby them the way a good mechanic cares for the tools of his trade.  And just as a good mechanic always uses the right tool for the job rather than trying to make do with whatever happens to be nearby, so I insist on using the right word…and just as some mechanics are annoyed by seeing others misuse or abuse their tools, so am I annoyed by the misuse or abuse of words…

This doesn’t mean I’m a grammar Nazi, though (as you’ve also probably noticed).  It’s not misspellings, malapropisms or mistakes like “irregardless” that set my teeth on edge, and you’ll probably never see me rail about them unless I’m deliberately trying to be difficult.  No, what annoys me are A) words which are improperly constructed (such as “homophobia”) or improperly used (such as “vagina”) by people who should know better, trying to sound “proper” or “intellectual” or “serious” and failing miserably; and B) proper words used properly which nonetheless grate on my nerves due to their referring to morally or philosophically objectionable concepts.  I’ve already written about (A) in the aforementioned “Nasty Words”, and about one important example of (B) in “The Privilege Paradigm”.  But today I’d like to target the word “deserve”, the visible part of an iceberg of moral odiousness floating unseen below the social waterline.

Weighing of the HeartIf you’re scratching your head about now, consider what the word “deserve” implies:  that there is some absolute and unambiguous moral standard in the universe against which actions and people can be weighed like a heart against a feather in the Egyptian afterlife, with “deserving” things exalted with hosannahs and “undeserving” thrown to that crocodile-headed thing.  Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much; “deserve” implies a clear, objective standard on which all right-thinking people can agree, and sets up an external authority as the judge.  And those implications lead to two important misrepresentations of subjective things as objective; the first is merely annoying, while the second is one of the chief rationalizations for tyranny.

The first of those misrepresentations is the one used with irksome regularity in advertisements for luxury goods or what we might call “common luxuries”, things such as ice cream or fast food which aren’t luxurious, but aren’t strictly necessary either. It’s nearly impossible to go a day without seeing some huckster hawking his goods with phrases like McDonald’s classic “You deserve a break today,” implying that the consumer is a long-suffering paragon of virtue whose unremitting efforts go unrecognized by Them, despite the fact that the whole business would fall apart if not for her. So even if she isn’t paid as much as she “deserves” or given the praise she “deserves”, she can reward herself by spending money at whatever business the ad is trying to promote. Vacation travel is one of the most notorious abusers of the word, but in a bad economy it has a strong challenger in loan companies who promise to give the consumer “the credit you deserve”, implying that hey, it isn’t actually your fault that you defaulted on all those bills. Am I implying that people with bad credit are deadbeats? Not at all; life is hard and shit happens (and I’m only just building back my own credit from a near-total wipeout in the autumn of 2008). But let’s not pretend that good credit is some kind of award for the virtuous, either; actuarial tables are not based in scruples, but in statistics. Either there’s a good chance a lender will get his money back from a borrower or there isn’t, and “deserve” has nothing to do with it.  That also happens to be the title of an excellent essay by Ken “Popehat” White which I linked in “Return of the Agitator“:

…the central narrative of our criminal justice system…offers the ultimate excuse for cutting corners, giving police the benefit of the doubt, looking the other way at constitutional violations, putting our thumbs on the state’s end of the scales of justice.  He got what he deserved — that’s what one side says, cutting through facts and law and reasoned analysis to pure us vs. them.  He didn’t deserve that,  says the other side, unwittingly lending support to the implicit argument that there are some who do.  But deserve’s got nothing to do with it.  Heroism and villainy have nothing to do with it.  We have to demand that everyone be treated justly, whether our viscera tell us that they do not deserve the rule of law at all…because it’s…foolish and perilous to let the state (or the mob) decide who deserves rights and who doesn’t…

I'm No Saint, I'm No Angel, I'm Just Human by Rebivaleska (2012)The word “deserve” is thus allowed to excuse the inexcusable; it’s OK that we gunned down that black kid, because he stole a pack of cigarettes two years ago.  It’s OK we raped that woman, because she’s a streetwalker.  It’s OK we’re fining charities for feeding those people, because they’re drug addicts.  It’s OK we entirely shut these men out of human society, because they’re “sex offenders”.  They don’t deserve to be treated like human beings, because they’re “no angels”…the implication being, of course, that only angels deserve humane treatment, no matter what the easy-credit guys tell you.  And if you see nothing wrong with that implication, you deserve everything you get.

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Abolishing prostitution is a complete fantasy, and those deluded by it…sacrifice the lives of real human beings on their altar of sexual purity.  –  Joyce Arthur

Rough Trade 

A Delhi court has sentenced four youths to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for abducting and gangraping a Rwandan refugee, saying merely because she was working as a sex worker does not confer the right upon anyone to violate her dignity…lynch mob

Think of the Children! 

Norah Langweiler…was…hired as Adolescent Health Training Coordinator of Mississippi First, a non-profit specializing in education advocacy and reform…she would design and implement a training center to train educators and medical professionals on…sex education…an…online harassment…group…mined through Langweiler’s Facebook, Etsy, and Twitter accounts to find and repost any “objectionable” material they could find on her, current or years-old…The incriminating “stuff” the small guild dug up included a link to a cartoon about vibrators, mild cursing, and…a photograph of Yoda-shaped pasties…[after a politician joined them]…she was asked…to resign from her position…

The Scarlet Letter

Flint, Michigan has one of the highest crime rates in the US, so cops there have decided to give up on that and use their time trying to destroy the lives of people engaging in peaceful commerce instead:

Suspected Flint prostitutes and johns will be the target of a new police social media tactic to stamp out the world’s oldest profession…police will begin posting on its Facebook page the names and photos of suspects who have been arrested and arraigned on prostitution-related charges…Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said he believes more-severe punishments are needed to deter prostitution…[an amateur circle-jerk he participates in] has proposed legislation that would change the crime to be a five-year felony…

Scrambled Eggs

In the entire history of futurism, has any futurist ever been right about anything?

One of the developers of the contraceptive pill has predicted his own invention will become redundant as more people choose to be sterilised, making sex purely recreational by 2050…Professor Carl Djerassi said increasing numbers of babies being born through IVF…will lead to men and women choosing to have their eggs and sperm frozen at a young age…people would then be sterilised out of convenience because there would be no need to have sex to produce children…

Above the Law 

Some rapist cops carefully plan their assaults:  “A..Wisconsin [cop]…has been convicted of sexual assault of a child…and possessing child pornography.  Daniel Barber [abused]…several boys, including two toddlers…he [used]…Craigslist and Facebook to connect with parents in need of baby sitters…”  While some prefer to simply take advantage of opportunities:

[Florida cop] Carlos Xavier Lopez…responded to a call about a possible domestic incident [then] a few days [later]…he returned for a followup…he…forced himself on a…woman…and…kissed her, pressing his tongue into her mouth…he told her he “could last for hours” and that “I’m not going to get caught.”  Then…he forced his hand inside her underwear and touched her, so she attempted to pretend someone was coming into the garage so he would stop…[he] followed her and tried to guide her toward a bedroom…Lopez allegedly said he would have had sex with her if members of her family hadn’t been home at the time…

Gingerbread House

Look beneath the Orwellian language:

Every year in Texas 46,000 kids will go missing…More than 6,500 of them will become victims of sex trafficking…the…Refuge for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking…is working to open the refuge ranch where victims of human trafficking can get all the help they need.  “Everything will be self-contained on the 50 acres so that in the beginning the girls don’t have to be moved outside of that and that gives them some safety and consistency”…Girls ages 11-17 will be able to stay as long as they need…

“Girls don’t have to be moved” = “girls won’t be free to leave”.  “Safety and consistency” = “security and isolation”.  “Stay as long as they need” = “indefinite, open-ended sentence”.  And given that only 6 of that “missing children” figure are actually abducted by strangers, it’d be a good trick for “more than 6500″ to be “sex trafficked”.

Sex Work is Work

Bitch Magazine eschews the usual nonsense about whether sex work is “bad” or “empowering”, instead treating it as work and interviewing three sex workers whose names you know:  Mistress Matisse answers “How Does a Dominatrix Do Her Taxes?”, Melissa Gira Grant talks about “Looking at Sex Work from a Labor Perspective”, and Emi Koyama discusses “The Social and Legal Reality of Sex Work”.

Droit du Seigneur (TW3 #132)

A group of [Nigerian] sex workers…beat up a top politician…over his refusal to pay for services rendered…Eye witness [sic] said that the prostitutes…began to drag him along the…road, shouting, “pay us our money for the service we do for you”…his clothes had been torn to shreds before his friends…moved to rescue him, while pleading for forgiveness from the sex workers…

Theatrics Tinder propaganda

If this supposed “crime” is so common, how come the only pictures we have of it are always fake ones?

Fake accounts on Tinder, using pictures of models with cuts and bruises, have been set up as part of a campaign against sex trafficking.  Dublin-based advertising agency EightyTwenty and the Immigrant Council of Ireland are behind the scheme.  Profiles initially show a picture of an attractive person, but when users swipe to see more photos they are then confronted with images depicting abuse that victims of trafficking are [supposedly] subjected to…

Policing for Profit 

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property…Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled.  Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars.  Especially nice cars.  In one seminar…Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies”…And…described how [cops]…could not wait to [steal] one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar…In September, Albuquerque, which has long seized the cars of suspected drunken drivers, began taking them from men suspected of trying to pick up prostitutes, landing seven cars during a one-night sting.  Arkansas has expanded its seizure law to allow the police to take cash and assets with suspected connections to terrorism, and Illinois moved to make boats fair game under its D.W.I. laws…In Mercer County, N.J., a prosecutor preaches the “gospel” that forfeiture is not just for drug arrests — cars can be seized in shoplifting and statutory rape cases as well…Officials offered advice on dealing with skeptical judges, mocked Hispanics whose cars were seized, and made comments that, the Institute for Justice said, gave weight to the argument that civil forfeiture encourages decisions based on the value of the assets to be seized…

Pimping the Pimp (TW3 #403) 

Annie Lobert of “Liars for Jesus” is back in the news again, and the source who pointed this story out to me has a bit more info on her.  It turns out she went by the stage name “Fallon” and used to work the casinos; she was never a streetwalker, never had a “pimp” (unless you count her current husband, Oz Fox of the Christian rock band Stryper) and has continually inflated her stories of beatings and the like for the past eight years.  Remember her “prostitution glossary“, in which she pretended agency escorts use terms cops claim are from the narrow little world of pimped streetwalkers?  Yeah.  Anyway, this “Destiny House” is actually the second mansion some would-be rescuer has allowed her to use; she lost the first one because she couldn’t prove her “charity” actually accomplished anything, and now that she’s about to lose this one she’s crying for public funding with the help of a reporter best known for Area 51 stories.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Drawing Lines

Once again:  No, adding a camera won’t protect you from prostitution charges,  even though the distinction is total bullshit:

Porn stars get paid to have sex.  Prostitutes get paid to have sex.  But porn is legal, and prostitution is not.  And now porn stars are letting fans pay for the chance to have sex with them on camera…While at first glance the concept of someone bidding thousands of dollars…to have sex with a porn star in front of a video crew might seem like prostitution, adult industry experts say it’s not…Marc Randazza…explained that the differentiation between pornography and prostitution generally refers back to a 1988 California Supreme Court case, People v Freeman

See No Evil (TW3 #421) premature nursing

A picture showing a new mother breastfeeding her premature baby for the first time was removed by Facebook after a user complained it contained “offensive” nudity.  Emma Bond, 24, said she wanted to share the image of the “special moment” with Carene, who was born 12 weeks early…Facebook said breastfeeding photos have never been against the firm’s Community Standards, but nipples had to be covered or concealed.  It said the picture had been removed in error and had since been reinstated…Sarah Crown, editor of parenting website Mumsnet, said…”We have a problem with photos of women breastfeeding on Facebook because they involve breasts”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

Canada’s new anti-prostitution law was passed this week despite mountains of evidence of his harmfulness and unconstitutionality.  The city government of Vancouver has protested the new law, strongly implying that it will refuse to enforce it, and steadfast ally Joyce Arthur had this to say about it:

…The misnamed “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” will accomplish neither, because the main unwritten goal of the law, bluntly stated by Injustice Minister Peter MacKay, is to “abolish prostitution“…the law is a recipe for violence against sex workers, who]…will be pushed into more isolated areas, forced to work alone, pressured into rushing transactions, harassed by the police, less able to access social and health services, and subjected to increased stigma and discrimination.  New prohibitions on advertising will put many indoor workers onto the street…Kerry Porth…of Pivot Legal Society…said…”The new laws are so confusing that no one — not even the government itself — really knows what activities will be illegal and what will be legal”…a Charter challenge is all but certain. Sex workers will win again, this time for good.

If Men Were Angels

A…teacher [named Tariq Ahmad] is wanted [for]…the sexual abuse and rape of two female students at a private Islamic school in Florida…one…[needed] “substantial surgical repair”…the school knew about the alleged incidents, which happened between 2006 and 2008, but did nothing about them…

Safe Targets (TW3 #439)

Would he have been prosecuted if not for the Vice article?  Doubtful.

A Fairbanks man arrested…after a two-month investigation is accused of posing as a [cop] and trying to blackmail local prostitutes for cash…Jase O. Connors, 26…[is only in trouble because he’s] not a certified police officer…none of the victims who came forward to discuss the case…will face prosecution as a result of doing so…

Of course, now cops and prosecutors know their names and details.

Whore Detection

Note that she doesn’t question the prohibitionist laws that both reinforce this stigma and raise it from merely insulting to actually dangerous:

The online conversation about women of color being profiled as sex workers made me think about my own stories…I [am] a…twenty-something [black] woman [married to] a white man in his mid-thirties…[I get] propositions a few times each year…Stop Street Harassment…has found…that dark-skinned women are more likely than light-skinned women to be asked questions like, “How much?” by men in public spaces…

Banishment (TW3 #444)

Red Light Legal…has called on the Oakland City Council to repeal new rules allowing the city to force landlords to evict alleged prostitutes…the Oakland City Attorney’s Office…[pretends that] the city won’t actually use the legislation to target sex workers…[but rather only the] motels and hotels [they live in.  City Attorney Barbara] Parker…demanded [newspapers censor their truthful coverage of the law]…and print [city propaganda] instead, [vomiting out the myth that] “Prostitutes are…victimized and brutalized by the pimps, Johns, and others who prey on them and force them into that life“…Despite Parker’s [lies]…the law still leaves the door open [to persecute sex workers on the whim of cops or prosecutors]…

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I see you so often rail about the imaginary “trafficking” issue.  I realize that very few adult sex workers are coerced, and that anti-prostitution laws have nothing to do with protection, but is there any actual evidence that there are real girls under 16 (particularly from Asia) who are really being forced to work as prostitutes? 

distorting mirrorIn a world of over six billion people, it is a near-certainty that any situation anyone can conceive of (which doesn’t violate the laws of physics) has already happened at some point and continues to happen from time to time.  So yes, I am sure that there are some Asian girls under 16 who are actually compelled (by some means almost anyone would agree were coercive) to work as prostitutes.  I have no way of guessing what that number might be, and neither does anyone else despite pretensions to the contrary:  all the cases which make the news involve women older than that; and/or the compulsion is of a type that would not be viewed as a problem if she were a maid or nanny; and/or she chose the situation as the best of a number of alternatives, many or all of them bad; and/or there is some cultural difference which causes her to see her situation differently from her “rescuers”; and/or the “trafficker” is actually an intimate partner rather than a cartoon pimp or racist caricature of a crime cartel.  Moreover, though prohibitionists paint sex workers’ clients as sadistic perverts who ignore bruises and evidence of bondage and prefer prepubescent girls to adult women, nothing could be further from the truth; sex workers who seem to dislike their work tend to get bad reviews because most men don’t actually like having sex with unwilling partners, and the idea that a business model based on the overt enslavement of traumatized tweens could ever be a thriving concern is highly dubious to say the least.  In fact, the popularity of this narrative reveals the sick, twisted psychology and sexuality of those who promote it; their view of sex work is like something seen in a warped mirror, not only reversed but magnified and distorted into unrecognizability.  The three most important forms of distortion are:

  • a rare, extreme situation is presented as though it were not only the norm, but a norm from which there is little if any variance (thus making it unique in human experience);
  • complex, nuanced human interactions are reduced to absurd black hat-white hat melodrama complete with mustache-twirling “pimp” villains, passive damsels in distress, and heroes with pure motives who ride in on white chargers to save the day; and
  • the carceral “solutions” which the fetishists inevitably favor not only fail to help women in the complex real-life situations whose existence they deny, but also to help even the women in situations which actually resemble their fantasy somewhat.  In fact, these supposed “solutions” make things worse in almost every conceivable case, as I explained at length in “Straining at Gnats” and “Enabling Oppression”.  Criminalizing sex work does not discourage a black market in which coercion can thrive; on the contrary, it creates such a market.

The one-sentence answer to your question, then, is this:  A small number of such girls probably does exist, but their situations are a lot more complex than the “sex trafficking” profiteers want you to believe, and the laws they favor actually hurt such girls by enabling those who exploit them.

(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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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  –  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

I am often asked by interviewers if I think the majority of sex work prohibitionists truly wish us harm, or if they’re just misguided.  I answer that while the leaders of the prohibition movement are evil, duplicitous and fully aware of the harm they’re causing both to whores and to our clients and families, most of the rank and file are well-intentioned people who believe the prohibitionists’ claims that they “only want to help sex workers, to ‘rescue’ us from ‘objectification’ and ‘degradation’, to ‘save” us from our own choices.”  This is nothing new; all through history unscrupulous leaders have used similar claims (“saving the souls of heathens”, etc) to justify conquest, pillage, rape and murder, and the majority of the population supported them because they simply didn’t know any better.

For the most part, anyone with the slightest actual knowledge about sex work sees right through such claims; a large fraction of the writing, speaking and social-media activity of activists and allies these days is devoted to exposing these false claims of concern for our welfare, often under hashtags such as “#NotYourRescueProject” and “#RightsNotRescue”.  But every so often the prohibitionists manage to sugar-coat their bait well enough so that even veteran activists swallow it, and unwittingly promote the interests of prohibitionists by spreading their propaganda and contact information.  In June of last year I shared several examples in “Long Spoon”, but a month ago another, even better one appeared:  Massachusetts end demand press releaseThis graphic was shared on Facebook and Twitter by a number of activists, but few seem to have noticed the direct source, the Massachusetts State Police, who are about the farthest thing from sex worker allies it’s possible to be.  And even fewer saw this article, which totally lays bare the agenda behind it:

…the large female percentage signals that these arrests may not be dealing with the root of the problem, the demand for prostitutes created by johns and pimps and the over-sexualization of the female in American culture.  “Mass NOW believes that the commodity model of sexuality in our culture contributes to the inability of law enforcement officials to see the percentage of sex workers who are coerced into the sex industry as victims”…said Katie Prisco-Buxbaum …“We believe…in…working to erode some of the cultural perceptions around prostitution”…“It is certainly cheaper for police to arrest the sellers, but there isn’t much evidence saying that it is efficient to do so,” said Michael Shively, founder of Demandforum.net…If prostitution is to ever be truly eliminated, the state of Massachusetts and the rest of the world need to make a larger effort to eliminate the prostitution market by targeting the johns and the pimps…

I doubt many of those sharing the above infographic without comment (or even worse, with supportive comment) would have done so had they realized that it was naked “end demand” propaganda, a blatant push toward Swedish-style systems that aim to “eliminate prostitution” by eliminating prostitutes through slow starvation.  The filth about “victims”, “commodification” and “cultural perceptions” belched forth by Katie Buxbaum would’ve been quite enough, and even the name of Michael Shively would’ve rewarded a quick Google search with the revelation that he makes a very good living producing bogus studies for Swanee Hunt, a morally-warped multi-billionaire with a personal vendetta against whores who actually bankrolls pogroms against us.  These “operations” go under the name “National Day of Johns Arrests”, but just because a politician calls something the “Free Kitten Act” doesn’t mean it’s actually devoted to giving out free kittens; in fact, it may be the exact opposite.  The center of Hunt’s private anti-sex jihad is Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located; its sheriff, Tom Dart, vomits out “end demand” poison every time he opens his filthy mouth on the subject.  So one would expect his county to be a model of “john arrests” in order to uphold his advertising and please his obscenely-wealthy patron, wouldn’t one?  Well, not quite:

On paper, sex workers are still not as likely to face felony charges as their patrons, who can be charged with a felony on their first offense…But…analysis of the…data shows that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers.  During the past four years, they made up 97 percent of the 1,266 prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County.  And the number is growing:  Felony convictions among sex workers increased by 68 percent between 2008 and 2011…

Trojan horseIn other words, the city most associated with Hunt’s “end demand” program saw an increase in the number of sex workers’ lives destroyed by police, despite propaganda to the contrary.  Given the presence of her toady Michael Shively and the recent announcement that she’s inaugurated a new crusade in Boston, this “infographic” has Swanee Hunt’s name all over it, and those who spread it without explanation were doing her dirty work.  The proverb tells us not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the Trojans might have a different opinion on the wisdom of doing so; given the cleverness and resources of our enemies, advocates would do well to closely examine the teeth, hooves, withers and (especially) parentage of any horse presented to us before saddling it up and riding it in this very serious race where our lives are literally at stake.

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