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Links #308

Well, yeah, do what you gotta do, because we gotta find somethin’.  –  unnamed Las Vegas cop

Despite my being in Southern California for most of the week, we’ve got a decent selection of links here.  The video is from Emma Evans and the links above it from Nun Ya (“wood”), Lucy Steigerwald (“birdie” and “prohibition”), Rick Horowitz (“proactive”), Walter Olson (“immune”), and Mark Draughn (“crises”).

From the Archives

No one has said…that we want prostitutes to have a good time while we also try to stamp out prostitution.  –  an “expert adviser” to Norway

A Tale That Grew in the Telling 

Elizabeth Nolan Brown has become a force to be reckoned with:

Every year some 1,000 new children are trafficked for sex in Ohio, while an additional 3,000 remain “at risk” of being trafficked, according to U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty [of] Ohio…[who claimed the figure] came from a report commissioned by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.  The only such report comes from 2010…At the root is an FBI-led operation that took place in Toledo and its surrounding county between 2005 and 2009, called “Operation Innocence Lost”…Toledo…[is] a city with a decaying economy and one of the highest crime rates in the region…number one in Ohio, and 49th in the entire United States.  In the course of Operation Innocence Lost…60 [young people were labeled] “minor victims of sex trafficking.”  Forty-five—an average of 15 per year—came from Lucas County.  It’s this number from which the committee extrapolated for all of Ohio.  Using Lucas County population data, the researchers arrive at the conclusion that 15 per 24,965 Ohio girls ages 12 through 17—or 0.06 percent—are “successfully recruited into the sex trade from Ohio each year.”  With 337,961 Ohio girls in this age group overall, that 0.06 percent rate yields an estimate of… 202 per year…[another] study claims that every minor…knew an average of 5 more underage minors “that were not known to law enforcement, but who were engaging in the sex trade”…[so they multiplied the “estimate” by 5]…

It gets worse from there; the article is well worth reading in its entirety.

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Dude argues that censorship is OK because Donald Trump is running for president. I am not making this up:

It is time to ban pornography…We find it perfectly acceptable that smut, no matter how [much I personally dislike it], should be widely available…“Ban” strikes us as a nasty word…But are bans really so terrifying and impossible?  We are not averse to banning something when we think it is really wrong.  We are happy to “ban” murder, rape and even certain types of speech (try yelling “Fire!” in a theater)…Gail Dines…has found [exactly what she wanted to find]…Happily, the left appears ready to take up the censor’s task…pornography…serves as an instruction manual for the subjection of women…the rise of Donald Trump provides evidence of pornography’s social harm…If you cringe at Trump’s sneering misogyny, then join me in calling for a ban on the thing that made his crude appeal possible…

Droit du Seigneur 

The people prohibitionists want to “rescue” us:

A “disabled” ex-cop with ties to the mob has been accused of…running dozens of prostitution Web sites…Michael Rizzi…who retired in 2000 on a disability pension…[owned] nearly 60…Web sites…Between 2012 and 2016, the operation processed more than $2 million in credit-card transactions…Rizzi’s wife, Jill, is the daughter of Gambino family muscle Richard Juliano…

Notice it’s never called “sex trafficking” when cops are involved:

A “prostitution ring” in  Kentucky’s capitol city may have shared a lot more than proximity with powerful state officials. The operation, allegedly run by former Franklin County constable Thomas Banta, is accused of servicing a roster of local legislators and police officers…He’s charged with five felonies, including promoting prostitution, kidnapping, and impersonating a peace officer…The case does contain a few red-flag details, such as a claim by one woman that, under Banta’s direction, she had appointments with 15 to 20 clients per day, twice a week, and was once offered $500 to have sex with a dog…one claims she was in eighth grade when Banta first started paying her to have sex with him and others.  Interestingly, none of the Ketucky media that have reported on the story have been throwing around terms like “sex trafficking,” despite the possible link to at least one underage woman.  I guess it’s only sex trafficking when former government officials aren’t involved.

The Prudish Giant

The original article of this title referred to Google, but Facebook long ago surpassed it in prudishness by at least an order or magnitude:

…The spaces in which we interact online are largely controlled today by corporations…these unelected “sovereigns of cyberspace” operate without accountability, and often with little respect to our hard-won freedoms.  On today’s Internet, those making the rules aren’t elected officials but technocrats — mostly male and mostly American.  And those making day-to-day decisions about what we can and cannot see aren’t judges with years of training but low-wage workers at outsourcing firms in places like the Philippines…Facebook…has created its own set of “community standards” that are intended to be globally applicable…Under Facebook’s rules, sexual content is banned, as is most nudity (though exceptions exist for works of famous art, photos of mothers breastfeeding and post-mastectomy images).  Shirtless photos of women are forbidden, while shirtless photos of men are fine…The human body is not inherently sexual, nor are all depictions of sexual acts pornography.  By lumping together porn with all other sexual content — and lumping sexual content with nudity — Facebook is setting a new standard, one that is far more restrictive than our Constitution, and one that treats women’s bodies as shameful…

Above the Law  

Since I have a new subtitle for rapist cops, I’m now going to use this one for other kinds of officials:

An Iowa Department of Transportation driving instructor forced a customer to view sexually explicit photos and videos of himself during an exam and then threatened her to keep quiet…John Wayne Alexander…is charged with felonious misconduct…and harassment…The 60-year-old abruptly retired from the DOT in March amid a disciplinary investigation…A…woman seeking to have her license reinstated told police that Alexander instructed her to pull into [a] parking lot…saying he wanted to smoke a cigarette…then gave [her] his phone…and said that he needed her to delete several photos, which showed him “in various forms of self-pleasure and undress”…Fearing for her safety and license status, the woman says she deleted the images as told.  She gave the phone back to Alexander, who then forced her to watch a video of himself masturbating and using a sex toy…

Guinea Pigs 

Don’t be fooled by this article’s appearance in Forbes; if you look closely you’ll realize it’s a “guest post”, which is to say a sponsored article like paid ads in newspapers made to look like actual articles.  One telling sign of that?  Forbes now blocks users with adblockers, yet I have no trouble accessing this because it is an ad, just presented as news.  Anyhow, much of this is the usual mixture of incredibly bad numerical charlatanry (such as the painfully stupid claim that fewer than 0.6% of the male population somehow manages to support the entire 0.3% of the female population which are full-time sex workers) and intensely moronic “solutions” such as magical apps that “children” can activate for “rescue” if they’re suddenly “trafficked” by “pimps” jumping out of bushes at them.  But if you can last that long without your eyes rolling entirely out of your head, look at all the calls for mass surveillance in this.  Yikes.

Fever Dream (#541)

I don’t give a damn what the cops’ victims did for a living; it’s the article’s language that’s horrifying:

…the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) [arrested] 32 people…in Knoxville…Human traffickers all around us [sic].  If you’re buying or selling, you are part of the $150 billion business — and part of the crime…Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch calls human trafficking the “scourge on society” and [masturbates while claiming] his department is committed to doing all that’s necessary to protect victims…

Despite all the “trafficking” talk, the sex workers were arrested and charged with the clients and all charges are ordinary prostitution-related ones.

Crying for Nanny (#570)

A long, revolting exercise in bootlicking intended to raise support for an idiotic lawsuit which every sane person understands cannot win:

…every lawsuit filed by…[an] underage [prostitute] against Backpage has been dismissed because of a law called the Communications Decency Act of 1996.  The law protects [websites]…from being held legally responsible for what users post…“If someone publishes a faulty motorcycle [ad on Backpage.com], the buyer of that motorcycle shouldn’t be able to sue Backpage merely for posting the ad, that doesn’t make sense,” said ABC News’ senior legal correspondent Sunny Hostin…Backpage [said]…”making online service providers responsible for millions of posts by third-party users…[would] inevitably [result in] highly restrictive censorship or the total banning of certain categories of online content so that online service providers are not in constant anxiety about potential liability for the one ad that slipped through their moderation systems”…

Of course, censorship is exactly what prohibitionists want.  Don’t read this unless you have a strong stomach for graphic depictions of cop worship & bootlicking.

Saving Them From Themselves (#597)

I hope he wins and establishes a precedent:

The investigation of a “sexting” case involving a…teenager, and the desire by prosecutors and police to repeatedly obtain photos of his genitalia, sparked a national uproar in the summer of 2014.  Authorities backed down from their second search warrant for explicit photos, and the teen was placed on probation.  The case took a further turn last December when the detective, David E. Abbott Jr., was accused of molesting two young boys and killed himself as police moved to arrest him…The teenager, Trey Sims, 19, filed a federal civil rights suit…against both Abbott’s estate and Claiborne Richardson II, the…[district] attorney who [colluded with] Abbott to [manufacture “child” porn by photographing]…Sims’ genitalia…Sims was then charged with manufacturing and distributing child pornography, but the girl was not…Richardson and Abbott only charged Sims because he is male, a violation of his equal protection rights…

Turning Point

Emily Bazelon pisses the prohibitionists off even more by promoting Amnesty International’s pro-decriminalization platform:

On Wednesday night, Amnesty International released its long-awaited policy…calling on governments around the world to “decriminalize consensual sex work.”  Amnesty also wants countries to “include sex workers in the development of laws that affect their lives and safety”…Amnesty’s researchers spoke to 54 people in Norway, including police officers, prosecutors, academics, social science providers and 30 sex workers, including three victims of trafficking…Amnesty’s basic finding is that Norway’s laws punish people who sell sex — not through arrest but in a variety of other ways.  One researcher told Amnesty that police forces in Oslo “often use terms like they are going to ‘crush’ or ‘choke’ the [prostitution] market, and unsettle, pressure and stress the people in the market”…

The Best Part

Screenshot_2016-05-26-22-35-30On Tuesday morning I picked up a rental car in Anaheim and drove for almost four hours to Fresno, where I did a photo shoot with Rick Horowitz which I hope will be the first of several I do for my nude photo project.  I then stayed the night at his home, where I shared a delicious dinner and hours of lovely conversation with him and his wife.  The next morning I set out for the long drive back to Los Angeles (specifically, Long Beach Airport) for my flight back to Seattle, and as I was leaving Rick said, “That was a really long way to drive for photos.”  I replied, “I could’ve gotten the photos in Seattle; I drove here for the experience.”

I’ll be reaching the half-century mark pretty soon, and I’ve met a lot of people in that time.  I’ve talked with them, argued with them, loved them, and fought with them.  I’ve hired them to do jobs and been hired by them; I’ve fucked them, been fucked over by them, played with them and feared them.  I’ve learned from them, taught them, helped and been helped by them, ignored them, missed them and avoided them and done many other things far too numerous to list.  And for the majority of my adult life, I’ve made my living by interacting directly with them on a one-on-one basis.  And as time has gone by, I’ve grown to realize that the most enjoyable, rewarding and memorable moments of my life have always involved other people.  Nor do I mean exciting, cinematic adventures in which I happened to have companions; I just mean conversations, shared meals and other simple one-on-one interactions.  As I sit here writing I can open the vault of memory and find a wealth of experiences from months, years and decades in the past; I can see their faces, hear their voices and even tell you where we were and what we talked about.  Some of the people with whom I had these treasured interactions are still dear friends, and some I haven’t seen in many years; many of them were with people I met only once, and whose names I have long forgotten.  And many others fall somewhere between those two extremes.

I’ve said many times that the most rewarding part of my book tour in 2014 was the human interaction; just to present one single example, I spent last weekend at the home of a friend I made on that tour.  And though the past year has been very difficult for me, the one thing that has helped me through it most was the support of my friends.  I look forward to shared meals like some people do to rock concerts and enjoy conversations like some people do Hollywood blockbusters.  You know how some people think it’s perfectly reasonable to wait for days in line to see a movie, concert or parade, or to be among the first in the door at a sale?  Well, I think it’s reasonable to travel long distances to visit friends.  And that has only become more true as I’ve grown older.

Would you be my mentor in sex work?

I get this question very often, and I’ve never actually answered it.  Oh, I’ve answered specific questions about sex work many times, and will continue to do so; the “Mentoring” tag is full of them.  But when I’m asked this question the petitioner usually wants an ongoing, potentially paid relationship, for which the answer must be “no”.  Again, I’ll give specific help to other sex workers, either by email or in person, nearly every time I’m asked.  But if it’s an ongoing relationship you’re looking for, that simply isn’t going to happen.

There are several reasons for this, of which three stand out; the first of these is that I simply don’t have the time.  As I’ve explained on many occasions, things are so tight for me now that many columns (including this one, incidentally) are finished mere hours or even minutes before posting.  There’s just no way I could make room in my schedule for another major obligation; right now any new time-commitment requires that I give up something else.  In other words, I couldn’t mentor anyone if I wanted to.

The second reason is that, believe it or not, I’m not really qualified.  The market has changed considerably since I learned the trade, and I really haven’t kept up; the only reason I do as well as I do is that I’m Maggie Fucking McNeill, a widely recognized sex symbol.  In other words, my brand is already built, and all I have to do is maintain it.  But if I had to give someone else advice on web development, tailoring one’s ads to the clientele one wishes to attract, and all that kind of thing, I’d be utterly hopeless; unless you’re willing to devote over half your waking hours to become a well-known blogger for six years while making practically no money at all, I just don’t think my experience is transferable to your situation.  Sometimes this should be painfully obvious, but I guess it isn’t; the letter which inspired me to write this column was from a man who wanted me to mentor him in the nigh-impossible task of becoming a heterosexual male escort.  Now, I’m often called a saint, but I can assure y’all that theurgy is not in my skill set; it would require a bona fide miracle for me to train someone in something I not only lack the biological qualifications for, but have repeatedly stated is essentially a fantasy.

The third reason is that such relationships are fraught with sexual, emotional and even legal land mines.  The people who ask me this question sometimes just want regular mentoring, but sometimes what they actually want is a manager (and I don’t need to tell you what society calls those in our line of work).  Ofttimes there’s more than a whiff of groupie about the person asking, and it’s pretty clear that she desires to be guided in a more, shall we say, “hands on” fashion.  And though I’ve got a running joke on Twitter (with several women young enough to be my daughters) about “Miss McNeill’s School for Wayward Young Ladies”, in truth there’s absolutely no way I’d risk such an intimate relationship with a young whore any longer; not only is there too much risk of sexual and emotional injury (and not just to her), but also our culture has entered a period where such relationships are nearly always viewed as predatory and/or exploitative.  In other words, injured feelings could potentially result in public accusations or even criminal charges, and I’m sure Dan Satterberg would just love to have a reasonably-credible “sex trafficking” case against me courtesy of a heartbroken girl who claimed I had manipulated and seduced her into prostitution. No, thanks.  So while I’m flattered by the requests and wish I could give everyone who asks all the help she needs, the answer is, must be and will always be a resounding negative.

(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.)

This is what a sex panic looks like.  – Mireille Miller-Young

Backlash

Whenever South African sex workers make some advance toward rights, you can be sure the cops will soon arrive to “teach them a lesson”:

Last week…police arrived at a field in Pretoria West known as “The Bush” and told sex workers they were there to get rid of them…Sex workers said about 100…cops arrived in two buses and told them that they “were a disgrace to schoolchildren” and they were there to “clean up” the area…This harassment has been going on since November…despite Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saying in March that sex workers were “entitled to dignity”…[last] Wednesday the shacks in which they entertain their clients were burned down and condoms destroyed…SWEAT and Sisonke alleged that the metro police were ordered by Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to “clean up the site”.  Blessing Manale, the mayor’s spokesman, did not respond to requests for comment…

Surplus Women 

The [New Zealand] Prostitutes Collective will increase its presence in Christchurch…after the body of a sex worker was found…Renee Duckmanton, who was 22, was found…on…[the] night [of May 15th…it [is] not yet known if Ms Duckmanton’s work is connected to her death…[she] suffered burns and her death is being treated as a homicide…

The More the Better

This is a cute article on sex workers’ ideas of what a perfect brothel would look like.  But what makes it most interesting to me isn’t the content of the suggestions, but rather the fact that articles like this are seeing the light of day.  Hey, prohibitionists: We’re winning.  And there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it.

Blunt Instrument

Another asinine “crackdown” on massage parlors, using the usual excuse:

The Salt Lake County Council amended a business ordinance recently in the hopes of cracking down on the illegal sex trade…Under the old ordinance, if a contractor was found in violation of a criminal act, like prostitution, their license would be revoked.  Now, under the new amendment, authorities also revoke the business owner’s license…therapists, and the businesses they work for, can also be cited if they’re not licensed…[cops also] say they’re hoping the legislature [increases criminal penalties for sex workers]…

Under Every Bed

These articles aren’t even funny any more; they’re just pathetically stupid:

…sex trafficking…[is] happening in Louisiana — on a much larger scale than most people realize — and Caddo is among the parishes with the highest number of…victims recovered…according to Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services…only East Baton Rouge parish…and Orleans parish…had more…The state serves as a hub for sex trafficking mainly because of its interstates — particularly I-20 and I-49, according to FBI Senior Resident Agent Chris Cantrell…

Among other idiocies: a “child advocacy center” un-ironically calling itself “Gingerbread House“, as if completely oblivious to the meaning of the phrase.

Monsters 

another trans woman [has] been murdered and…misgendered in death. And again, it’s a Black trans woman who’s been murdered. This time it was 32-year-old…Mercedes Successful, who was found shot to death on [May 15th] in a [Florida] parking lot…

Paint By Numbers

Why just stand around, when you can HIKE to “raise awareness”?

On May 29, those who are hiking can also help a great cause by taking part in the fourth annual Tread on Trafficking hosted by Love 146…from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., the group will have a table set up where hikers can come and register or even just ask questions about what Love 146 is all about.  Love 146 is an organization…that cares for survivors of child sex trafficking, and protects youth all around the globe…

Property of the State (#527) 

This case horrifies me more than almost any other of this century:

…Purvi Patel was…the first woman in the U.S. to be convicted and sentenced on “feticide” charges for ending her own pregnancy.  Patel says she had a miscarriage.  When she arrived, bleeding, at a hospital near South Bend, her doctor called the police on her.  The state of Indiana charged her with both feticide for allegedly inducing an abortion, and child neglect for allegedly having a premature baby and then allowing the baby to die — an inconsistent and contradictory set of charges.  On May 23, Ms. Patel’s case [came] up for an appeal.  And all of us who care about reproductive rights had better be paying attention, because…permitting a person to be charged based on the outcome of the pregnancy could mean requiring people to prove that a miscarriage or a stillbirth was unintentional.  This is a terribly slippery slope…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#611)

I’m going to cut straight to the meat of this article about whether escorting will survive dating apps:

…even with the rise of Tinder, and readily available casual sex, escorting isn’t likely to go anywhere.  Sex work isn’t solely about paying for sexual experiences; it’s about paying for a clearly defined relationship where the boundaries and expectations are out on the table.  Articles about the “dating apocalypse” supposedly fueled by Tinder and the like offer an argument for the continued appeal of escorting.  Though hookup culture superficially achieves the same goal, at least on the demand side, it brings with it a potential for emotional messiness and mismatched expectations that truly transactional sex work neatly avoids…

Size Matters (#619)

On the sentencing of Tracy Elise:

Her sentence is 4.5 years and she is receiving credit for the time she has already served…which is roughly 10 months.  She is not receiving credit for the year and a half she was on house arrest…With programs and “early kick-out” she will serve between 2-2.5 years.  We will know what her estimated release date is in about a month.  We are filing appeals, and will be filing a sentence of stay to get Tracy out for appeals, but this process takes time (6 months to a year)…

Morality Lessons

A powerful takedown of “porn is a public health crisis” nonsense:

Is pornography a public-health crisis?  Of course not.  While it is not surprising to see the Utah legislature unanimously declare it one…what remains shocking is the perceived legitimacy of anti-porn activists, despite the profound unreliability and inconsistency of their hyperbolic claims…How has a movement based on such shaky theoretical ground succeeded in a massive campaign to convince the public that sexually explicit media is responsible for an epidemic of sexualized violence against women and children; the rise of a zombie army of emotionally robbed and sexually desensitized men; and the explosion of an underworld of prostitutes trafficked directly from porn sets to street corners across the nation?  This is not real…Gail Dines…and her…claims are not just far-reaching, they are dangerous…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#633)

Letting cops get away with rape is OK, but we just CAN’T let them have consensual sex!

…Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sergeant let a Boynton Beach police officer caught on camera soliciting sex from an undercover officer go free…Oscar Cardenas told deputies…to let…Vintyre Finney…go free — even after deputies had handcuffed and detained him…

Turning Point

In which NSWP counters the absurd prohibitionist arguments which have appeared in response to the New York Times Magazine piece:

…Branding the decriminalisation of third parties as an attempt to “legalise pimps and brothel keeping” undermines sex workers in their struggle for labour rights and justice…sex workers can be employees, employers, or independent workers and participate in a range of other work-related relationships with third parties, for example paying someone to drive them to appointments or do their advertising.  Third party laws…increase…sex workers vulnerability to HIV transmission…[and] expose…sex workers to unsafe working environments…The police use third party laws to harass sex workers and limit their access to services and support by targeting other parties, such as landlords…Sex workers themselves can be prosecuted if they work together using third party laws…The children or partners of sex workers can be prosecuted as third parties, for living of the earnings of a sex worker…

Diary #308

purple blanket selfie 5/20/16If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that my meds worked as they were supposed to on my flight to Los Angeles; the success was probably due in part to the fact that it was a very smooth flight, but I felt no nausea at all despite the fact that the seats on the airplane did not recline at all and I was thus forced to sit bolt-upright the whole way (which is usually a recipe for vomit). Furthermore, little bumps and shakes that would normally fill me with anxiety did nothing more than slightly unnerve me, so I’m pretty confident that the return trip won’t be too bad.  Anyhow, I had a lovely and relaxing weekend with my friend; those of you who know me well understand what the presence of my fuzzy purple blanket in this picture means, and those who don’t will just have to guess or be mystified.  I also got to visit with Matt, I went to Disneyland yesterday and I’m going up to Fresno for a photo shoot today.  Then tomorrow I’ll be flying back to Seattle, and scrambling to catch up before Savannah Sly arrives this weekend.  But for me, busy is good; it keeps my brain occupied with productive things instead of letting it wander off into negativity.  And I really did have a memorable and pleasant trip, even the parts when I wasn’t naked under my purple blanket.

Turning Point

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  –  Mahatma Gandhi

NY Times magazine cover 5-8-16One of the points I cover in every basic presentation I give on sex worker rights is that criminalization is a very recent idea.  Invariably, most of the audience is surprised; having been reared in a culture soaked in anti-whore propaganda, they take it for granted that “naturally” we’ve always been persecuted, because victimization and “pimps” and disease and THE CHILDREN!  But of course, this is nonsense; though many cultures have come up with laws intended to restrict or “regulate” whoring, the idea that it was an evil which needed to be eradicated by state violence is a 19th-century one, rooted in racism and “progressive” Victorian thought about “correcting” the human race by using law to enforce a Puritanical agenda.  Prohibition of sex work sprang from the same filthy, poisonous soil as did eugenics, anti-masturbation torture devices and the prohibition of alcohol and drugs.  But while the former two ideas are widely recognized as dangerous nonsense and the latter is slowly dying, the use of armed thugs to commit pogroms against peaceful adults because authoritarians don’t like their reasons for having sex is still going strong.  That, however, cannot endure indefinitely; the internet has made it impossible to silence the voices of sex workers any longer, and study after study has concluded that we are correct when we say that criminalization is an evil which harms not only whores and our clients, but our families, friends and associates.

Furthermore, as we should have learned from the obscenity of alcohol Prohibition, the only way to stop adults from engaging in consensual behavior is to empower the cops to spy on people, violate their civil rights and destroy their lives.  Not that this actually stops the prohibited behaviors, mind you; no campaign of prohibition in history has ever worked.  But prohibitionist laws allow the state to terrorize the population and “send a message” that free thought is forbidden, and that the almighty State is the arbiter of right and wrong.  As should be obvious from the glacially-slow process of stopping the Drug War that every decent person in the world recognizes as an abject failure, modern fascist states like the US are heavily invested in the violent enforcement of arbitrary bans on peaceful, consensual behaviors.  Cronies have become fabulously wealthy via deals with prohibitionist governments, the machinery of the police state needs bodies to be fed into it, and those whose power derives from mindless obedience to nonsensical rules are not about to let go of such power without a fight.

But if history teaches us anything, it’s that respect for individual human rights is increasing; the majority of people no longer feel morally comfortable with the subjugation of minorities and the violent suppression of private behavior.  That’s why over a decade ago prohibitionists changed over to the “sex trafficking” paradigm, and why their rhetoric largely consists of the repetition of tragedy porn and the assertion of the ridiculous idea that every sex worker who speaks in public is lying, and that there is some invisible multitude of “victims” out there who will be magically helped by taking away their income and subjugating them to the control of gangs of violent rapists.  The problem with this sort of strategy is that it can’t be sustained forever; moral panics die, and the scales fall from people’s eyes, and both individuals and institutions wake up to the truth.  A few years ago the wind started to shift in favor of sex workers’ rights again; many more individuals began to question criminalization, and then last year we passed the watershed moment when Amnesty International officially espoused decriminalization as a policy, and the federal government’s ill-considered raid on Rentboy brought Gay, Inc grudgingly over to our side.  Make no mistake, the prohibitionists are terrified; they feel their grip on the narrative slipping, and they know they will lose it just as they lost other fights against the principles of self-ownership and sexual self-determination.  If you read some of the prohibitionist reaction to last week’s New York Times Magazine piece, you can practically smell that fear.  They’re losing, and they know it.  They’re going to double down on their efforts, and the number of pogroms will increase in order to “teach us our place”.  And that just means we need to hold the course all the more.

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