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Posts Tagged ‘lawheads’

The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.  -  H.L. Mencken

So, were y’all thoroughly confused yesterday?  Were you wondering who the hell wrote that crap that was posted under my name, or did you think it was a great improvement over my usual baroque sentence structure and outré descriptions?  Did you find yourself saying, “Ye gods and little fishes, it’s as though Ernest Hemingway had come back from the dead to write a guest column!”  Or did you not even notice anything amiss?

dumb kid from ShaneYesterday was, of course, April Fools’ Day, and for this year’s prank I decided to run my Reason essay “The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers” through Hemingway, a program which purports to “improve” your writing by making it “bold and clear”…in other words, by shortening and simplifying each sentence down to a level that would not confuse a rather slow-witted ten-year-old.  Hemingway said that my original text was “OK”, with 16 demerits; the final product was rated “good” with only 8, though I had eliminated everything the machine had labeled a “problem”.  Presumably, my score couldn’t get any lower because it still had too many words of more than one syllable and too many highfalutin’ terms like “prohibitionist”, “television” and “Canada”.

Now, in part I did this was because I thought it would be funny; not necessarily Monty Python funny, Three Stooges Funny or even Noël Coward funny, but at least whimsically amusing.  But I also did it to show just how stupid it is to defer to the aesthetic sensibilities of something that would lose in a battle of wits with a starfish.  Even if one stupidly believes that there is only one kind of good writing, and suffers from the lamentable but popular delusion that Hemingway was its archetype, and furthermore imagines that even Hemingway always wrote in that clipped, easily-parodied style we refer to as “Hemingwayesque” (which he did not), the notion that a glorified Nintendo console is qualified to judge adherence to that standard is ludicrous at best.  But as stupid as that idea is, a very large fraction of moderns cling to it with childlike devotion because it is a natural outgrowth of one of the most pernicious dogmas of the machine age:  that human beings are just another kind of (albeit complex) machine governed by knowable rules, and that Utopia can be achieved if we can only discover those rules and implement them thoroughly (and ruthlessly) enough.  This is the heart of “Progressive” thought:  force people (via social engineering, prohibition and criminalization) to only eat, wear, watch, read, hear, say, do and think what “experts” have decided is “good” for them, and the Millennium will arrive on the very next high-speed train.

The problem with this is that it’s 99 44/100%  pure bullshit.  Human beings are not Skinner’s programmable modules, social interactions are incredibly complex and most “experts” aren’t even qualified to make decisions for their dogs, much less for millions of people they don’t know.  That idea that human beings can and should be governed by rigid, top-down rules designed by said “experts” has given us the Drug War, sex work prohibition, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, the nanny state, “Child Protective Services”, the “sex offender” registry, mandatory minimum sentencing, “zero tolerance” school policies and a host of similar abominations far too numerous to list.  People’s lives, like their writing styles,The Brothers Hemingway are unique, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another; by the reductionist “logic” of modern governance, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Dostoyevsky were all terrible writers because they don’t sound like Hemingway…and their works should be mercilessly edited until a mindless computer program declares them acceptable.

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After breaking down doors and waving…guns around, it’s gratifying [for cops]…to pacify terrified slaves by tasering them.  -  Joyce Arthur

Recognition

An elderly Italian man got a rather unwelcome surprise when he ordered an escort – and his…40-year-old son’s South American girlfriend…arrived at his house…the pair declined to take the encounter further and swiftly parted ways.  The man [decided]…to tell his son…prompting a bitter fight between the pair…the son [sued] his father for injuries…Barbie and Lammily

Barbie

While whitebread feminists wet themselves over the newest version of “Happy To Be Me”, Virginia Postrel isn’t having any of it:

…All right-thinking people  seem convinced that Barbie instills in her pre-school fans a false and remarkably detailed standard of beauty.  Hence the widespread  praise for Lammily, the latest anti-Barbie concept doll.  A crowd-funded project from artist Nickolay Lamm (the source of her ungainly moniker), Lammily is based on the average proportions for a 19-year-old…[but] the average 19-year-old female American stands 5 feet 4 inches tall.  She has a 33.6-inch waist and…weighs 150 pounds…If Lammily were true to life…she’d have rolls of fat, not a firm plastic tummy…Celebrating one version of average as “normal” and “realistic” implicitly stigmatizes everyone who doesn’t meet that standard.  Barbie doesn’t pretend to do that; Lammily does…

A Narrow View

This NPR article on diversion programs is full of the usual “sex trafficking” nonsense and dishonest platitudes about the programs’ effectiveness, but one section was especially troubling:

…Judge Pratt says that initially her treatment-focused approach…improved the ability to prosecute the traffickers.  But…a lot of the boys…were becoming pimps.  “The foster care system and juvenile justice system is creating both sides of this market, the suppliers and the goods,” she says…

Her revolting dehumanization of girls as “goods” is bad enough, but her willful mischaracterization of young male sex workers as “pimps” in order to prop up the vile “pimps and hos” myth is utterly reprehensible.

To Protect and Serve (August Updates)

San Diego cops use “sex trafficking” as an excuse to send a SWAT team to a strip club:

A manager at Cheetahs strip club says his dancers felt violated by police who photographed them almost nude…10 officers swarmed the building with guns and bulletproof vests, interrupting business for a couple of hours…to make sure all 30 dancers had proper permits and were in compliance…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Male delusions about sex work start extra-early in Sweden:  “Swedish police have received a report that three underage boys [as young as ten] speaking bad German tried to sell sex to women at a busy commuter hub in central Sweden…

Not for Everybody

Though Meg Munoz had a very bad time as a sex worker and for a while supported prohibition, she eventually recognized the harm it creates:

…Poorly conducted, [biased]…research needs to stop being used as the foundation for fundraising…the refusal to have sex work acknowledged as real work…has all but halted any civil discourse…Allowing moral biases to dictate policy is dangerous for those who are there by choice and force…

Above the Law Deon Nunlee

No, you lying asshole, it’s exactly what police officers do, which is why this is the second most common subtitle on the blog:

…while police responded to [a] domestic violence call, one of the officers allegedly took the woman into an upstairs bedroom and sexually assaulted her…Deon Nunlee has been charged…Detroit Police Chief James Craig said…“This is an anomaly.  This is not what our police officers do”…

In fact, here’s another in the same city:Geoffrey Townsend

A former Detroit police officer who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving participants in his boot camp for misbehaving teens is being sued by two of the victims…Geoffrey Townsend…began making unwelcome sexual advances [eventually culminating in rape when one]…victim was 13 years old…and…the…[other] 16…

And it’s not limited to the US, eitherScott Andrew Terry

[Durham, Ontario police Constable Scott Andrew Terry] sexually exploited [a 16-year-old girl] …with whom he first came into contact after she was busted for shoplifting in May of 2000.  Instead of filing charges…he…[offered] her a rental room in his house…[then] began making advances which…escalated to nude photos, sexual touching and eventually rape…“in exchange for the rent”…

First They Came for the Hookers… 

This dumb story about dumb strip-club restrictions in Chicago is, as you might expect, mostly just dumb.  But these comments from anti-whore zealot Bob Fioretti venture into a higher realm of dumbness:  “we have an underlying social problem.  Between 15,000 and 25,000 women a day engage in prostitution…in this city.  That underground activity undermines us a city — a world-class city…”  I’ll bet you didn’t know we were so dangerous, or that roughly 4% of the adult female population of Chicago were whores.

Higher Education (TW3 #23)

Unlike the last time we saw this, these teachers are actually qualified:

An enterprising association of sex workers in Barcelona has angered some of Spain’s most prominent feminists by offering an “intro to prostitution” course…at a cost of €45…the four-hour intensive course for aspiring sex workers was held last month by the Asociación de Profesionales del Sexo…Lidia Falcón…[who] has spent years fighting to have prostitution [criminalized] in Spain…said…the problem with the course lies in its underlying suggestion that some women are working in the profession out of their own free will…

So Falcón wants the course banned because it blatantly disproves her lies.

Imagination Pinned Down

Though the social climate which led to the Satanic Panic had been building for years, it was the McMartin Preschool hysteria that really launched it.  Now that it’s a generation in the past, even media outlets like the New York Times which fully embrace “sex trafficking” hysteria recognize its earlier incarnation for what it was.  Here’s a good retrospective called “McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic”; watch it with the current hysteria in mind and note the many parallels.

The Widening Gyre

If “authorities” don’t want stupid myths about women being abducted spreading around, they sure have a strange way of showing it:

[A rumor] warns of attempts to abduct women and girls in broad daylight at crowded shopping centers.  It warns that a new gang initiation requires members to kidnap, rape and beat womenBig Pimp and then dump them in parking lots.  For years, authorities have tried to keep such messages from spreading, debunking their claims as urban myths…

To clarify:  Women being abducted by gangs for quick rape = “right up there with Bigfoot”, but women abducted by gangs for years of captivity and sexual slavery = 100% credible.

South of the Border

In Mexico, a respected advocate is arrested as a “pimp” for helping sex workers organize:

…the recent arrest of Alejandra Gil…[is due to] new legislation, which…conflates sex work with human trafficking…Gil has worked tirelessly for the human rights of sex workers for many years…Laws and policies that target “third parties” under the premise of “protecting” sex workers, increase our vulnerability to abuse and exploitation, and create real barriers for sex workers organising…

Bottleneck

Considering that more than 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing, how well do you think this colossally stupid Italian law will work?

…prostitution will be permitted in private houses, subject to certain conditions, including the use of condoms…the draft law, which was presented…by…Maria Spillabotte…includes the issuance of a licence, stating that the holder is free of sexually transmitted diseases and confirming that a payment has been made…of €6,000 for a full-time licence or half that amount for part-time work…Prostitutes will also be required to get a certificate of mental fitness.  “This is a fundamental way of getting women away from coercion,” says Spillabotte.  “During an interview, the specialist will be able to tell if the girl is being forced into prostitution or if it is her free choice”…

That Old Black Magic

Patrick RockThe Sharjah Police…arrested an Arab woman and a man for forcing women into prostitution and engaging in black magic…

Buried Truth

When a politician obsesses about “protecting children from porn”, this is usually the reason:  “A senior aide to David Cameron resigned…the day before being arrested on allegations relating to child abuse images.  Patrick Rock…was involved in drawing up the government’s policy for…online pornography filters…

Between the Ears (TW3 #133)

This article on “Why Viagra Ruined Sex Work” quotes a few ladies whose names regular readers may recognize:

…“I wouldn’t say ED drugs are the worst thing, but they are really annoying,” laughed…Jolene Parton…“it…makes it harder for the client to come.”  Anna Gristina…dubbed [it]…“The working girl’s worst nightmare come true…It went from wham-bam, thank you ma’am,’ to ‘Oh my god, can you just finish, man’”…Amanda Brooks…says…men become obsessed with having an erection at the expense of any enjoyment for anyone…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

Texas joins the states arresting people to force them into “diversion” programs:  “The Corpus Christi Police…conducted a ‘Jane Sting’…in conjunction with the Red Cord Diversion Program…all six arrested persons were signed up to participate…rather than have criminal charges immediately applied.”  Yes, they actually referred to sex workers as “janes”.

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #315)

Joyce Arthur hits it out of the park with this satire:

In a bold move aimed at protecting workers from exploitation while on the job, the government today passed a new law that criminalizes most employers and customers…Law and Order Minister Punter MacCunny…pointed out that 95 per cent of people hate their jobs and want out, according to a new government-commissioned study…Police welcomed the new law, which gives them sweeping new enforcement powers to target the huge increase in organized crime.  According to Det. Sgt. Billy Clubber, head of the RCMP’s new Slave Save Squad, “We’ll be cracking down on slavery rings, basically any place where workers are bribed with wages to provide services”…The law now designates employers and customers as “pimps” and “johns,” respectively…

Long Spoon (TW3 #351)

Reason’s video on condom criminalization specifically refers to the Human Rights Watch report condemning the practice in New Orleans:

Ladies of the Night

Saith Dr. Brooke Magnanti in The Telegraph:

It’s an unusual move to go from policy and social commentary to fiction, especially as the stories cover a range of genres from romance to crime to sci-fi.  And yet it works.  The eye for detail that fans of Maggie’s non-fiction writing appreciate is well played here.  She invents worlds with ease and populates them with thought-provoking, yet never two-dimensional, women and men.  If you love plots with twists, she has them to spare.  (If you’re not into twists, or women who aren’t always whiter than white, probably best to stay away.)  And the cover art by acclaimed cartoonist and Louis Riel author Chester Brown is wonderful.

She also reviews Daddy by Madison Young and Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex columnist Suzi Godson presents “10 Things You Need to Know Before You Support the Swedish Model of Sex Work” in response to the new push by UK prohibitionists.  It’s not anything new for readers of this blog, but it’s possible ammo for online discussions you may get involved in.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #410)

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz answers the many criticisms of Project ROSE by denying them to Christian Post after refusing interviews with mainstream reporters.  And if you imagine the denials are substantive or backed by facts, think again:  her entire rationale for cooperating with cops to railroad people and deny them lawyers is, “sex-work…is against the law.”  Meanwhile, in last week’s other installment of “Traffic Jam”, a demonstration of the motivation behind the fakery:

A study of advertising placed during the recent Super Bowl in New Jersey suggests the volume of sex trafficking that will occur when the event comes to Arizona in 2015 will likely exceed the ability of any one law enforcement agency to address.  Phoenix Police Lt. James Gallagher, who co-authored the study…said law enforcement must coordinate to combat sex trafficking during major events…

In other words, “give us more money and power!”  Here’s a Storify of the fun several of us had with this mess last Saturday.

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Memory works a little bit…like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people.  -  Elizabeth Loftus

One of the forms of magic characters might encounter in a Dungeons and Dragons game is illusion.  Some kinds of wizards or magic-using beings can create realistic illusions that fool the victims into believing something awful is happening, and unless they realize these phenomena are unreal and actively refuse to believe in them, they will suffer harm just as though they were real.  My friend Walter (whom I’ve mentioned before) had a running joke; whenever his character was in some sort of a dire predicament that he couldn’t think of a way out of, he would announce “I disbelieve it!” in the forlorn hope that whatever-it-was would vanish away like an illusion dispelled.

The ArrivalOf course, since the situations in which Walter announced this were never illusionary ones, his goal was just to make everyone laugh and/or break the tension of a harrowing episode.  But many people in real life think that disbelieving things, no matter what the proof of their existence, should have the legal or actual power to make them vanish; those same people also imagine the reverse, that strongly declared belief in something will make it so no matter what the evidence to the contrary.  Fortunately for those of us who prefer to live in the real world, neither of these is true:  bad things, or those which are inconvenient to one’s political agenda, cannot be dispersed by denying their existence; neither can nonexistent things, or those convenient to one’s agenda, be materialized by repeating a Shahada often enough.  But unfortunately, those who imagine otherwise are in the majority, and the law is often on their side.  The declared “beliefs” of cops (whether sincere or otherwise), and the first-person testimony of victims (or those who believe themselves to be victims, or who have been convinced by others that they’re victims) regularly trumps physical evidence in court, even when that evidence is solid and the human statements are incredible, absurd or even impossible.  And legislatures are even more disconnected from reality than courtrooms:  in statehouses, senates and parliaments the world over, sound evidence and credible, well-supported testimony is routinely disbelieved in favor of political or religious dogma, and the laws enacted from such beliefs are then enforced by vast armies of thugs prepared to inflict violence upon anyone who refuses to let the faith of irrational busybodies define his reality.

If human memory were like a videotape, and people were basically honest, the credibility gap between physical or documentary evidence and human testimony would at least be narrower than it is, and that might justify some degree of prejudice in the minds of the irrational and overly-emotional.  But it isn’t, and they aren’t; memory is both fallible and flexible, and people will lie to advance their own interests even when they know it will harm others (and even more so when they can convince themselves that the falsehood advances some “greater good”).  These two uncomfortable truths converge in special interest groups; as I explain in my forthcoming research paper “Mind-witness Testimony”,

…after-the-fact input from other people, either peers or authority figures, can distort memories so powerfully that after many repetitions the false memory will actually be much more powerful than real ones from the same time frame.  When confronted with proof of the falsity of their memories, some people have even insisted that such proof is either mistaken or manufactured…But even if there has been no external interference at all, the mere repetition of a distorted memory has the effect of strengthening it…The retelling of stories within a group biased toward a particular view produces an even more pronounced distortion, thanks to a psychological mechanism called group polarization…Obviously this dynamic tends to intensify moral panics, but because it alters the mental schemata of those involved it also affects the process of stereotypic conformation…[which means that] memories which fit the individual’s preconceptions are reinforced and those memories which do not are discarded, regardless of whether those memories are true or false

believe in fairiesIn other words, even if nobody is actively trying to manufacture false memories, then tend to occur anyway due to the powerful psychological need for group cohesion; when the leaders are actively working to create such confabulations via “reframing experiences”, they can will new memories into existence as easily as audience members heal Tinker Bell by demonstrating their belief in her.  And given the willingness of juries and lawmakers to believe in these fictions, the motive to create them is very strong indeed.  It is long past time we as a culture grew beyond believing in fairies and imagining that if we shut our eyes and cover our ears, unpleasant things will go away and trouble us no more.  Judicial proceedings and public policy must be based on evidence, not on belief, and such evidence cannot be disbelieved away even when we don’t like what it says.

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It’s a little known fact that as Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under the King’s horse during the 1913 Derby her last words were, “I hope that sometime in the next 100 years, someone introduces a product that makes a woman’s labia pinker.  That’s really what I’m doing all this for.”  -  Jake

If you live in the United States and noticed that you got the notification for this post an hour later than usual, it’s because starting today by government decree your clocks will lie to you about the time until early November.  Everyone else in the world should continue getting the notice at the same time until your clocks either start or stop lying to you (depending on what hemisphere you’re in) sometime in the next few weeks.  If you’re outside the US and the time was wrong anyhow, it undoubtedly has something to do with however WordPress has the change set up.  Got it?  I honestly wish we’d dispense with the unholy mess, which costs the US roughly $2 billion per year (and even more since Congress extended it in 2007, putting us out of synch with Europe and Asia).  Nor does that count the cost in lives and property damage from the increased number of accidents on the Monday following the change, especially in the spring.  Anyhow, in keeping with the theme of this rant I present “Destino”, a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali which was mostly done in 1946, then shelved and never finished until 2003.  It’s very strange and very beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  The second video is the first American television commercial for cannabis, but almost certainly not the last; it was contributed by Rick Horowitz.  The links down to the first video are a mixed bag; Lenore Skenazy gave us “never call”, “rules” and “kangaroo”; Michael Whiteacre gave us “birthday party”, Radley Balko contributed “mother”, and I found “kayaking” and “masochism” myself.  Those between the videos were provided by Radley, my cat, ManCrack, ClarissaKate Zen, Dean Clark, Kevin Wilson, and EconJeff (in that order).

From the Archives

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on February 2nd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

unfrozen caveman lawyerI find it fascinating (albeit in a sad and terrifying sort of way) to see how oblivious modern Westerners are to the fact that our “leaders” are nothing but tribal chieftains who hide their naked barbarism behind fine talk, fancy titles, ersatz philosophy and elaborate rituals.  The “rule of law” is absolutely meaningless when society supports a parasitic class whose only function is to make more laws, to interpret them in such a way as to inexorably increase their own power, and to hire thugs in order to inflict violence upon those whom they can (credibly or otherwise) accuse of having violated any of the tens of thousands of arcane, abstruse, vague, overbroad and complex laws to which they add new (and invariably worse) specimens every week.  And despite their modern “scientific” or “democratic” veneer, the vast bulk of those laws are based in superstitious concepts which any primitive would recognize:

…that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful to children or even to grown men and women; that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person (or in some cases, even a clothed child) is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil…

The most astonishing part of all this is that Westerners can often recognize these principles for what they are when they are displayed by the “leaders” of a non-Western culture, while remaining willfully blind to the exact same behavior in our own.  Take, for example, this recent news item:  “A 20-year-old woman has been raped in public by as many as 12 men on the orders of tribal elders in a village in eastern India…as a punishment for an ‘unauthorised’ relationship with a man from another village…”  The rest of the article tries to fit this in with other gang rapes in recent years, but that’s nonsense; the latter are the actions of criminals, while this was the action of a group deputized by officially-recognized leaders.  The only reason the rapists and the officials were arrested is that a higher level of government disagreed with their actions.  But while comfortable middle-class Guardian readers tut-tut about how awful “those people” are, people in the UK, Europe and the US are harassed and punished by our own “village elders” for “unauthorized” relationships all the time.  Sex workers and our clients are humiliated in public, confined, assessed fines that are nothing but legalized robbery, and even punished by rape:

new Justice Department study shows that allegations of sex abuse in [American] prisons and jails are increasing — with correctional officers responsible for half of it  — but prosecution is still extremely rare…a growing proportion of the allegations have been dismissed by prison officials as “unfounded” or “unsubstantiated”…even in the rare cases where…[officials admit] sexual abuse occurred…fewer than half were referred for prosecution, and only 1 percent ultimately got convicted…

And as in India, the only time these officially-sanctioned rapists get in trouble is when a higher level of government decides (for whatever reason) to do something about it:

A Justice Department investigation accuses Alabama officials of…fostering an environment of rampant sexual abuse at the state’s Tutwiler Prison, where inmates “universally fear for their safety” and officers allegedly forced women to engage in sex acts just to obtain basic sanitary supplies…male officers openly watched women shower or use the toilet, staff helped organize a “strip show,” prisoners received a constant barrage of sexually offensive language, and prisoners who reported improper conduct were punished…“Officials have been on notice for over eighteen years of the risks to women prisoners and, for over eighteen years, have chosen to ignore them”…

Knight Fighting Woodwoses by Lucas Cranach the Younger (c 1550)We are all, every last one of us, intellectually indistinguishable from our ancestors who migrated to the far corners of the world over the past 30,000 years; the only thing which makes us different is the body of wisdom and learning we have accumulated over that time.  Basically, we don’t act like savages because we are taught from an early age not to.  But when society gives certain individuals – our “leaders” – explicit or implicit permission to ignore the constraints it places upon everyone else, we should not be terribly surprised when they take advantage of the offer.

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I’ve been dismayed at the condescension toward and willful ignorance of the experiences of sex workers that is prevalent among…those…who…try to impose their values through criminalizing their work.  -  Peter Shafer

Barbie

Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a woman whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill attacking mainstream feminist claptrap:

Barbie is a safe way for girls to explore dangerously adult concepts like sexuality…says [psychoanalyst] Joyce McFadden…she likens young girls’ play-acting Barbie sex with them trying on their mothers’ makeup or bras…Anti-Barbie arguments have a tired ring to them…when I look back at my own Barbie-influenced youth, I have a hard time pointing to anything but positive effects.  “The feminist perspective is she has this unattainable figure,” McFadden says. “But Barbie was the only doll that had breasts, the only one to create a space where girls could start to fantasize about that”…Barbie is sexualized by adults, not kids…

Maggie in the Media

For those who couldn’t catch it live, the podcast version of my February 16th appearance on The Bob Zadek Show is now available.

Legislators Gone Wild

Harry ReidHarry Reid is on his anti-whore hobby horse again:  “Las Vegas is one of the cities in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, but Nevada’s prostitution laws may jeopardize the city’s chances of winning its bid…” The idea of a convention-rich state criminalizing a whole industry to win one single convention would be hilarious if it didn’t display such a blatant disregard for his constituents’ lives.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

Unfortunately, it’s the sex workers who suffered from this idiocy:  “A disgruntled punter made a complaint to Harrow Council…after a prostitute refused to have sex with him…at a brothel in the borough…The brothel is now being closed…

Follow Your Bliss

The officer in charge of a police pilot project created to combat human trafficking and rescue sex trade workers…[engaged] in sexual acts and [sent] lewd messages and photos of his penis to sex workers and colleagues.  Sgt. Derek Mellor…once the lead of Hamilton [Ontario] Police’s…“Project Rescue”…[pleaded guilty] to [nine] charges…

Good News, Bad News (TW3 #10)

Western Australia politicians keep playing with this diseased carcass:

Professor Catharine MacKinnon said Perth was perfectly placed to prevent human trafficking from Asia…because it was used as a gateway…by criminals.  However…the…Government would have to…overhaul prostitution laws to target the people who pay for sexual services rather than the prostitutes…

By “carcass” I mean the Swedish model; MacKinnon is still alive and flapping around belfries for the time being.

The Rape Question

Cherry 2000 sex contractConsidering the doctrine that consent can be retroactively revoked months or years after the fact, I sincerely doubt an informal contract without  a lawyer witness  would really offer much protection against future rape charges, but I guess it couldn’t hurt.  It’s just sad we’ve come to this.

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #15)

Everything is magically right and moral when state actors do it:

…[Washington state] prosecutors had [a rape and kidnapping victim] arrested…The 43-year-old woman…has not been charged with any crime.  She just wasn’t showing up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors…[in other words] the woman [is being held] against her will so she can help convict someone else of holding her against her will…

And just in case you think I tend to exaggerate about neofeminists:  Amanda Marcotte approves of the state’s actions.

Bullies With Badges

Big masked heroes in riot gear prove their manhood by attacking Asian women:

Birmingham [Alabama] police raided an Asian massage parlor…taking four women and three patrons into custody.  Police, along with FBI and ICE agents [pretended] the raid was in response to complaints of prostitution and possible human trafficking…

Her poster
The Pygmalion Fallacy

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

…a prominent futurologist has claimed that AI girlfriends…like the one…in the…film Her could become a reality by 2029.  Ray Kurzweil…claims…a virtual body with a tactile sense…“will…certainly be completely convincing by the time an AI of the level of Samantha is feasible”…

Femme Fatale

A man died of a heart attack while in the embrace of a prostitute at a brothel in Ticino [Switzerland]…police confirmed that…there were no third parties involved and no criminal case…seven customers have died in brothels in the canton in the past ten years…

Imagination Pinned Down

This is just a typical lurid “survivor” narrative, but contains an unusually telling passage near the end:  “For 17 years, Lloyd told no one what she had been through…Six years ago, she contacted the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado and met people who convinced her that she was dragged into a life of prostitution — and that it wasn’t her fault…” As usual, all events are conveniently decades in the past, with no witnesses, and she only came out with it after others convinced her that it happened.

Broken Record

You should’ve known we wouldn’t get through an Olympics without at least ONE “sex trafficking” scare story, and here it is courtesy of XO Jane.  I’m sure we can all think of more credible explanations for this scam that don’t involve the Russian Mafia and sentences like “The Olympics is a huge draw for trafficking…and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries.” Peter Schafer Whores & Madonnas

Real People (TW3 #36)

Photographer and regular reader Peter Schafer on his project Whores and Madonnas:

Opportunities are extremely limited in the Dominican Republic for women to make a decent living…After reading about how central the responsibility of being a mother was to their motivation to pursue sex work, it got my mind going as these women seemed to explode the well-worn dichotomy that classifies women as either Madonnas or Whores…I became their client…explained I was working on a photo project and showed them some of my other work…I paid them for their time being photographed…because prostitutes in Sosúa are the economic drivers, with all other businesses…dependent on them, they enjoy…status and respect…

Not To Be Taken Internally (TW3 #39)

An adult entertainer was sentenced in Mississippi…to seven years in prison for helping set up an illegal silicone buttocks injection that killed…Karima Gordon.  Stewart, who goes by the…[stage] name…Pebbelz Da Model, took $200 to refer Gordon to the injector and falsely claimed the person was a nurse…Tracey Lynn Garner, the one suspected of administering the injections, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the deaths of Gordon and another woman, Marilyn Hale…She has pleaded not guilty, with her trial scheduled for March…

With Friends Like These…

The title is, “For Smart Prostitution Laws, Ask a Prostitute”.  The first couple of paragraphs sharply criticize the Canadian laws which were struck down, and the middle section discusses misconceptions about sex workers and implies we need to be consulted on new laws…then the author rapidly descends into evil pimps and helpless victims, and concludes by advocating the Swedish model.

Watershed

Slowly but surely, it’s becoming acceptable for female public figures to declare their support for something other than criminalization of sex work. Legal journalist and former assistant district attorney Robin Baton recently published “Why Prostitution Should Be Legalized in the U.S.”, and while she fails to see the problems with the license-and-regulate view that’s probably just because she hasn’t thought it through; she uses arguments based on the principle of self-ownership, the lack of a bright, clear line between prostitution and other female behaviors, and the sports analogy.  And though (as Scott Greenfield expressed it) “she’s no Maggie McNeill”,50 Canadians Who Changed The World it’s still good to see this in a US medium.

Book Reviews (TW3 #339)

Another honor for Chester Brown, the acclaimed cartoonist (and friend, and reader) who drew the cover for my book:  he’s been included in a new book entitled “50 Canadians Who Changed the World”.  Chester says the book isn’t very good and downplays his hiring of sex workers (depicted in Paying For It), but I still think it’s great that he was picked out of the many notable Canadians the author could’ve written about.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #345)

On March 14, 2014 human rights defender and transgender advocate Monica Jones will…go…to trial…for “manifestation of prostitution”…after she [was arrested for protesting]…Project ROSE …Two members of SWOP Phoenix and the Best Practices Policy Project intend to travel to Geneva to…educate the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee about human rights violations perpetrated by Project ROSE and the Phoenix police…and call on the Committee to pressure the U.S. government…This unique opportunity has emerged because the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the U.S.’s human rights record…on…the same date as Monica’s trial…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #407)

This Hong Kong reporter seems to be trying out for a job in Beijing’s propaganda ministry:

Hong Kong police are planning to focus special attention on illegal sex trade operations in response to a wide scale crackdown on prostitution…in…Dongguan…Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung has expressed concern about a likely increase of prostitution in Hong Kong, but also expects additional criminal activity to accompany this vice…Prostitution was banned in China after the Communist revolution in 1949.  However, it reappeared three decades ago…and…is greatly responsible for a significant increase in sexually transmitted diseases…

Though the talk of criminality and disease is typical in the West, I simply cannot fathom why so many people whose minds were not broken by Mao are nevertheless happy to repeat the ludicrous propaganda that prostitution magically ceased to exist after his official proclamation.

Drawing Lines

[At the turn of the century]…an adult performer openly escorting was relatively rare…[but in the past few years] the industry…changed drastically: the talent pool [is] larger, the number of available roles much smaller, and the advent of digital piracy [has] driven performers’ rates down.  Escorting…has become one of the most lucrative ways for adult performers to supplement their flagging incomes…up to thousands of dollars for a single booking…The issue…is fairly divisive among performers…[and] was largely stigmatized within the adult film community until recently…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #408) yay for sisterhood!

After all the attacks, the Duke porn actress decided to speak for herself:

…I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I…love…my experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.  The next question is always:  “But when you graduate, you won’t be able to get a job, will you?  I mean, who would hire you?”  I simply shrug and say, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who discriminates against sex workers”…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #408)

Two sex workers’ flats in Soho, central London were…re-opened by a judge…[who] rejected police evidence that women…were being controlled or incited into prostitution for gain…Judge Kingston’s decision brought for the first time some common sense to legal cases, which have been rumbling through the courts since mass raids at the beginning of December…

What Next? (TW3 #408) 

If you’d like to answer the Canadian consultation but aren’t confident in your ability to make good points, Maggie’s (the Toronto Sex Workers Action Project) is here to help with simple guidelines (both general and question-by-question) which will help you not to get tripped up the way the government wants you to with its “when did you stop beating your wife?” phraseology.  Read them, get your own answers ready and submit them in the next sixteen days.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

Mary Honeyball, desperate to smear the 549 organizations (it has since grown to 560) who spoke out against her revolting scheme which this week imposed the Swedish model as a non-binding standard for all of Europe, fell back on the usual ridiculous neofeminist ad hominem by branding them all “pimps” (savor the absurdity of that for a moment before proceeding).  The ICRSE naturally had an answer to that, and here our friend Laura Lee and ally Dr. Belinda Brooks-Gordon confront Honeyball on Newsnight.

The Swedish model’s detachment from reality is so profound even Time magazine can’t miss it, despite the reporter’s belief in “sex trafficking” myths.

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We are now a police state.  –  Former NSA official Bill Binney

Today I’ll be Bob Zadek’s guest on his radio show on KKSF in San Francisco; even if you’re not in that area you can listen in on the internet.  The show starts at noon PST (20:00 UTC).

A larger-than-usual fraction of this week’s links are funny, even though some of them are black humor; enjoy it while it lasts.  Today’s first video, via Aspasia, is unique in that it was made entirely inside a computer; none of it exists in reality.  Yet despite my generally low regard for CGI cartoons, I wholly admit to being extremely impressed by it and I predict a successful career for its creator.  The second video (provided by Jesse Walker) takes us from the sublime to the ridiculous:  it’s a 1963 Rice Krispies commercial performed by a now-legendary band before they were famous (Jesse also supplied “irony”).  Everything down to the first video is from Radley Balko, and the links between the videos from  Popehat (“class” & “petard”), Amy Alkon (“11″), Gideon (“natural”), Cop Block  (“groped”), Tushy Galore (“Prince”), and Rick Horowitz (“NSA” & “robotic”).

From the Archives

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

Something Rotten in Sweden (December Updates) Maxine Doogan

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

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

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

Against Their Will

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

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

Saving Them From Themselves arrested teen girl

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

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

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

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

Above the Law

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

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

And in Hawaii,

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

Pyrrhic Victory

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

Naked Truth

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

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

Sex Work is Work

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

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

Train Wreck (TW3 #48)

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

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

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

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


Deafening Silence

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

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

Between the Ears (TW3 #322)

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

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

Torture Chamber

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

Horns

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

Innocence Never Had

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

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

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

The Public Eye (TW3 #403)

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

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

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406) Jean Urquhart

MSP Jean Urquhart did something extraordinary this week:

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

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The human body is not essentially…pornographic, and I think to make it so is a mistake.  -  Pat Robertson

This was one of those weeks in which I couldn’t be sure who was going to take the top position; it went back and forth several times before Radley Balko took it with six.  Popehat and Grace were tied for second place with four each (“irony”, “911″, “nanny”, and “fireman” for Popehat; “Palm Beach”, “3rd”, “hair”, and “spray” for Grace);  Jesse Walker (“gothic”, “Pat Robertson”),  Cop Block  (“10″, “20″) and Edward Cunningham (“together”, “test”) had two each,  and the rest of the links were provided by Franklin Harris (“RIP”), Walter Olson  (“physics”), Police Misconduct (“cop-lovers”), Jasper Gregory (“scrolls”), Jason Kuznicki (“cost”), Jemima (“strip”), Mike Siegel (“ABC”), and Lenore Skenazy  (“sign”).  The Via North Carolina Harm Reduction requested I share the second video, and I discovered the first while reading this article in order to answer a reader question.

From the Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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