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The ACLU of old is, alas, no more.  Gone is the organization so passionately devoted to civil liberties that it paid for a team of Jewish lawyers to defend literal Nazis’ right to free speech; in its place is an organ of the Democratic party whose main concern is keeping its cash flow as high as possible by parroting its primary donors’ beliefs (often in childish tweets repeating some a priori statement in all caps, over and over, without a word of justification), and never ever ever challenging those beliefs, no matter how anti-civil-rights and factually wrong they may be.  So it was unsurprising when they recently tweeted the silly rhetorical question, “Prisons and jails aren’t drug rehab centers, so why does our country use them as such?”  The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t; it uses them as cages to lock people up for the “sin” of drug use, so as to “correct” them.  The newer model of drug use as “disease” has been overlaid on the old “vice” model, but has not replaced it, just as newer brain architecture has overlaid but not replaced the old architecture of emotions, instincts, etc.  The same process is visible in cops vomiting out the new “whore as victim” rhetoric while still actually enacting the old “whore as criminal” model.  It’s what happens when a system is bad at phasing out obsolete processes, such as the ACLU being unwilling to change its name despite the fact that it no longer has very much concern for civil liberties.

The fear of ending up homeless is bigger than that of Covid.
–  Fernanda Ponciano

Panopticon (#609)

Buried lede: cops were using a license plate reader to manufacture “probable cause”:

[Cops arrested] and [terrorized] a Black mother and four children [at gunpoint] after [claimining] their SUV [was really] a stolen motorcycle from another state…[fortunately] several…witnesses [recorded the cops’ crime]…The [cops had been] us[ing] a license plate scanner to…[spy] on vehicles in the area…[the boss pig] blamed the license plate reader but could not explain why the dozens of [cops] who responded [were too goddamned stupid to comprehend that a truck isn’t a motorcycle]…Video shows over a dozen [cops] standing around the traumatized family…

Too Close To Home (#760)

The fanatically-prohibitionist Seattle Times demonstrates what an eager copsucker it is with this pathetic op-ed from a prosecutor and a prohibitionist profiteer that absolutely reeks of desperation in its mixture of begging and demanding Seattle politicians to prop up the dying “sex trafficking” scam by continuing to send cops to stalk, surveil, rape, harass, rob and otherwise ruin the lives of consenting adults.  When all this is over, we can only hope that the Seattle Times is one of the businesses that perishes, and good riddance.

Pyrrhic Victory (#846)

More on Amazon’s partnership with fascist surveillance pusher Marinus:

…the founders of Marinus Analytics created Traffic Jam, a [program] designed to [collaborate with cops to persecute sex workers]…by sifting through digital information gathered from the[ir] online a[ds]…Over the past year, Marinus worked with Amazon…and used the cloud-based graph database Amazon Neptune to boost the efficiency of Traffic Jam and help automate tedious manual processes to create a system capable of quickly identifying relationships and providing [more private] in[formation about sex workers] to [pigs]…Traffic Jam collects data from websites…used by [sex workers to advertise]…and rel[ate]s…[it to other] information as imagery, dates, locations, [stage] names…and [government names in order to out sex wokers to cops so they can be targeted for persecution, up to and including rape, robbery, and forced brainwashing programs]…Once connected through Neptune, Traffic Jam received a giant boost to its capabilities.  The system could now traverse relationships between data points up to 2.5 degrees of separation and expand to collect more than 350,000 data points daily…queries run…twice the speed despite using a dataset that is now four to eight times larger than before…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1011)

Trumpists and anti-Trumpists continue to fight for control of the “sex trafficking” narrative:

The Trump administration…announced more than $35 million in Justice Department grants to organizations that pro[fit from hysteria over]…human trafficking [but are now hurting due to decline in public interest in their fantasies due to the pandemic]…Ivanka Trump called human trafficking the “gravest of human rights violations”…[she has embraced the eradication of sex work as one of her causes despite her stepmother’s history of sex work].  The grants will be shared by 73 organizations in 33 states [that pretend] to provide…assistance to survivors, [though in actuality the supposed “assistance” is usually just a photocopy of public aid offices, etc]…Among organizations sharing the grants are [Hookers for Jesus]

Above the Law (#1056)

Another UK politician has been accused of rape:

A [member of parliament and]…former minister ha[s] been [accused of rape] by an…employee….[who] alleg[es]…four separate [attacks]…between July 2019 and January 2020…he…left h[is victim] so traumatised that she had to go to hospital…

Bureaucrats are calling this a “serious matter”, yet won’t identify the rapist.

Social Distancing (#1056)

I’ve corrected the blatantly false claims The Times makes about economic relief for sex workers:

When the mayor of Modica [Italy]…learned that a sex worker in the area had tested positive for the coronavirus, he immediately [descended into “dirty whore” tropes]…the…situation…highlight[ed] the…dangers of keeping sex work in the shadows…prostitution is not illegal, nor is it regulated as an official occupation, making the country’s 70,000 sex workers largely ineligible to receive economic relief.  Many have been forced to take their chances by returning to work in order to avoid poverty…the Netherlands and Germany [have forced] sex workers [naive enough to]…officially register…with the government [to go without work, even after all other close-contact businesses have re-opened]…Scotland also [ex]cluded sex workers [from] its relief programs.  In Greece…brothels were allowed to reopen on June 15, [albeit with government demands they violate professional discretion by revealing] clients’ names [to the “authorities”]…In Italy, various charities and associations have raised money for groceries, medicines, bills and rent to benefit the country’s sex workers…

Traffic Circle (#1062)

I’m glad to see more podcasts having Liz Brown on to debunk “sex trafficking” BS:

Reason senior editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown has done extensive research and coverage on the topic of sex work and…explains how authoritarians use the…term [“sex trafficking”] to punish and harm…sex work[ers]…how criminalization of sex work protects rapists & abusers…and how [massage parlor raids have]…become the #1 way for [cops] to make themselves look like they are…fighting trafficking…

Diary #528

It appears I’m not the only one who wants to protect her skin from the sun; as I was taking a short break in the shade, Chekhov snapped this picture with Jonathan, Shiloh and Orville all clustered behind me.  (I think the dogs were under the deck, which is now a considerable area).  It’s not that it ever gets all that warm here; we’re fairly close to the Pacific Ocean, so the climate is quite moderate.  But standing out in the sun is still a lot less comfortable than a nice shady spot.  In case you’re wondering, that’s the door to the wellhouse behind me; Grace asked me to take it off Saturday so she could move around more freely in there while connecting the new main power cable and the subsidiary lines to the breaker box, and if it starts to get cold before we have the bathhouse sealed up, we can always put it back.  This is the section of fence that was temporarily rerouted (yes, I know it’s slacky; it’s only for a few weeks) to keep the animals from getting too close to the construction site; they aren’t bothered by the sound of power tools, but they’re often curious about what we’re doing and I don’t want anything falling on them, especially once we start on the roof of the second cottage.  We should be starting that cottage week after next; on Thursday I need to return to Seattle for about a week, then when I return I’ll put the cottage foundation together to get ready for the main construction.  Chekhov’s going to finish the last section of the new French drain while I’m gone, and Grace is already working on the designs for the roof; with any luck we’ll have it done before the rainy season starts again in October.  And then we can find some better use for that shabby old door.

This was written at the request of a sex worker who wanted to explain the business to someone close to her who objected to sex work and believed most sex workers were trafficked.  The writer is a well-known person who wishes to remain anonymous.

As part of my job, I have interacted with bankers, lawyers, doctors, government officials and diplomats of the highest professionalism.  So it is no exaggeration when I say that sex workers are among the hardest-working professionals I have ever met.  It takes great skill to be a successful sex worker; the physical act of sex is only a small part of the job.  You have to be a therapist and a mind-reader, anticipating your clients’ moods and needs.  You need to be an entrepreneur and a time-management specialist.  You need to always be on your game, because word of a bad experience quickly gets around; unlike most other jobs, you can’t keep screwing up or your clients will ultimately stop seeing you.  You also need to keep yourself in shape and pace yourself so you don’t burn out.  You’re often working by yourself, so you have to ensure you don’t get too isolated.  Most women get into sex work for the money, but who doesn’t seek the most money for any job?  This is one job where success leads to more success and even higher rates.  You don’t wait for a promotion; you promote yourself.

Despite lurid headlines about sex trafficking, there are relatively few examples of that in the United States.  Statistics show that virtually all sex workers in the United States are in the business because they want to be sex workers; even Asian massage parlors are filled with workers who want to be there.  (Occasionally you may read about a bust, but then the charges are quietly dropped later because prosecutors can’t prove the women were coerced.)

Here are examples of some of the sex workers I have been privileged to know:

  • A gifted PhD from an Ivy league University, with well-respected published papers under her name, who decided she could make far more money with her beauty and charm than working in a think tank after getting her doctorate.
  • A zoologist who supplements her income with sex work so she can afford a nice apartment.
  • A single mother who found that sex work allowed her to finish her college degree and provide a better life for her son.
  • A high-profile business executive who does sex work when she’s traveling on business in other cities because she gets a kick out of it.
  • A life coach in her late 40s who turned to sex work because a bad investment left her short of the money she needed to build her core business.

Each of these women had their own reason for deciding to engage in sex work, but they all loved doing it.  They got to meet many kinds of men, from different walks of life, some of whom become close friends.  They are empowered and set their own schedules to fit their lifestyles.  And yet this is what some want to call “exploitation”.

Links #527

The 8-Ball was a psychic.  –  Stella Immanuel

The day after I found the “Bradbury” link, my favorite living animator, Amy Winfrey, tweeted this muffin film (if you’re unfamiliar with Amy, it’s one of her series) as a response.  The links above the video were provided by Kevin Wilson, Jesse Walker, Billy Binion, Ally Fogg, Franklin Harris, and Lady Vi, in that order.

From the Archives

Domestic violence prosecutions have little benefit to women and in fact can harm them.  –  Aya Gruber

Where Are the Protests? 

When people are really enslaved, the situation isn’t at all ambiguous:

…13 [Samoan] victims…were [enslav]ed…their passports were taken from them.  They were kept on a property surrounded by a high wire fence and could only leave or communicate with their family with permission.  If they broke the rules, they were assaulted, sometimes so badly that it resulted in scars.  When one teenage victim escaped, she was brought back in a car with her hands and wrists tied…Most worked long hours picking fruits from orchards, but they didn’t receive the money they had earned.  Instead, it was given to the man who had…lured them to New Zealand: a Samoan chief named Joseph Auga Matamata…[who h]as [been] sentenced to 11 years in jail for…human trafficking and…dealing in slaves…He was also ordered to pay 183,000 New Zealand dollars ($122,000) in reparations to his 13 victims to partly compensate them for the estimated 300,000 New Zealand dollars ($200,000) his family gained from his criminal acts…

Despite the clear descriptions of these people’s treatment in the article, CNN linked it to a video calling ordinary sex work “human trafficking in the US”.

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Amateurs are finally noticing that feminists have been in bed with the pigs for decades:

The notion that victims have a responsibility to [the state to conspire with] prosecut[ors against] their abusers is deeply entrenched in the legal system’s approach to domestic violence…feminists and [other] tough-on-crime types…[support] the arrest and jailing of domestic violence survivors…if they are deemed an obstacle to prosecution…increasingly, [reasonable people] are [pointing out] that police and prosecutors…don’t help in domestic violence situations and, instead, often hurt…studies…show survivors of domestic violence are less likely to report abuse when they think that will lead to an arrest and…police themselves are often the perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence, rendering them [useless] as a source of help…But [thanks to the “Violence Against Women Act” and similar laws]…arrest is…often mandatory…Aya Gruber…author of a recent book about the intersection of policing and feminism, says these policies ignore the fact that victims may be making a rational choice when they decline to testify against their abusers…By the 21st century, an increasing number of domestic violence arrests were of women, many of whom were victims themselves…around the same time, prosecutors and judges began to use [violence]…to force victims to testify against their will.  At least one [authoritarian] even suggested using guardianship laws to force women to comply with criminal prosecutions because such women lacked “independent judgment,” adding “a battered woman is so controlled that she has lost her autonomy”…

Traffic Circle

Debunkings of “sex trafficking” mythology are now becoming common:

All Shapes and Sizes (#834)

Why illustrate this at all if you’re just going to pixellate the images?

A British man whose penis fell off due to a severe blood infection had a new one built…on his arm…Malcolm MacDonald…suffered a horrific infection in his perineum that turned his fingers, toes and [penis] black…but his testicles remained intact…Professor David Ralph of London’s University College Hospital…said he could perform a…graft procedure…using a skin flap on the left arm of the right-handed man.  They created a urethra and installed two tubes inflated with a hand pump, allowing him to achieve an erection.  The shaft was then removed from his forearm, leaving the base, allowing it to form naturally as skin and tissue.  He is now waiting for it to be finally transferred to its proper location…

A Broker in Pillage (#1007)

Burying government in lawsuits is the only way to slow its depredations:

…[government] agents s[tole] more than $2 billion in cash from travelers in U.S. airports between 2000 and 2016, according to a new report by the Institute for Justicein…[one] case…Rustem Kazazi, a U.S. citizen who tried in 2018 to get on a plane to return to his native Albania…[was robbed of] $58,000 in cash…he was taking to repair a house he owned and possibly to buy another…by CBP agents…Then there’s the case of Anthonia Nwaorie, a Houston woman who had $41,000 in cash…earmarked for a children’s hospital in Nigeria [stolen from her]…there were no arrests made in more than two-thirds of all the cases…CBP isn’t the only agency seizing cash at airports.  Earlier this year, the…DEA…[was forced to] return…more than $82,000…it [had stolen] from an elderly Pittsburgh man and his daughter after a federal class-action lawsuit was filed on their behalf by the Institute for Justice…A 2017 report…found that the DEA [had stolen] more than $4 billion in cash…over the previous decade, but $3.2 billion…w[as] never connected to any criminal charges.  The majority of seizures occurred in airports, train stations, and bus terminals…

Top Cop (#1026)

This psychopath is still far too close to power for comfort:

Kamala Harris…is a schemer on the order of Lady Macbeth and Frank Underwood combined.  The only thought more horrific than Harris being one blood clot away from the Oval Office is of her replacing Bill Barr as U.S. Attorney General…Harris’ record as a prosecutor, both as San Francisco’s District Attorney and as California’s Attorney General, was marked by the misuse of her authority for political ends, and a sweeping contempt for the accused, for the U.S. Constitution and for the cause of justice.  A full exploration of Harris’ prosecutorial misdeeds would require a volume, if not volumes.  They run the gamut, from her sham investigation of widespread law enforcement misconduct in Orange County, to the family separations that resulted from her crackdown on the parents of truant kids, to her defense of the death penalty and laughter at the idea of marijuana legalization, to her decision not to go after Steve Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank for alleged misconduct regarding foreclosures, to a sweet plea deal for a fellow Democratic pol accused of assaulting women…Not only is Kamala a “cop”…she’s a bad cop, one who should not be granted the kind of national power to which she aspires…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1061)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

A porn-addicted probation officer in Florida is facing charges after he was caught using his cellphone to record video beneath a woman’s dress at Walmart…Darius Brantley…was caught on surveillance camera…approaching a woman twice while using his phone to take video footage beneath her dress…The woman then called police after Brantley left the Walmart and a[n employee]…jotted down his license [plate number]…Brantley…admitted to recording the woman [but blamed an imaginary]…pornography addiction…

Bathhouse 11

With the last of the posts in the ground (as of last weekend), we’ve finally got the entire footprint of the annex laid out!  This picture was taken from my office window upstairs; the slight fuzziness is because the window has a screen.  Toward the bottom of the picture are the posts you saw in last week’s picture, which was taken from the ground facing toward the house; at the top of that picture the window this was taken from is visible.  The reason the posts at the back of the structure are so much taller is that the ground drops as one moves toward the trees, and the half-posts we were using before aren’t tall enough to reach the proper deck height once they’re planted in the ground, so we need to use the full 8′ posts (they’ll be cut to the proper height this weekend, so you’ll see that in a forthcoming column).  If you click on the picture and enlarge it, you can also see the paddock gate in its new location (compare to this picture from two weeks ago).  When I took this picture late Sunday afternoon, we still hadn’t finished the new French drain, but we did it this week (its course runs directly up the single row that’s clearly visible here).  We also ran the main electrical cable to the breaker box in the existing wellhouse structure (it’ll be rebuilt later) and started on the deck surrounding the hot tub; I’ll show you some of that next time.

Retirement

What are the mechanics of retirement for a sex worker?

There are a few countries where sex workers have access to state pension schemes; even in the US a sex worker who diligently files taxes (as a “consultant” or whatever) is at least eligible for social security.  But of course that’s not what most people would consider a proper retirement income.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, most whores who stuck with the business long enough eventually accumulated enough money to set up their own brothels; even in the 20th century an ambitious lady might own an escort service.  In civilized countries that is still the case, though the rise of internet-based independent work has made it much more difficult for an agency to succeed.  And “sex trafficking” hysteria has made such services far more dangerous to operate because under criminalization regimes, cops and prosecutors actively seek to destroy such services and the lives of those who own and operate them.  Of course, it’s certainly possible for a sex worker of any sort to invest in a 401K or build up an investment portfolio, to set herself up in some conventional business (such as rental properties), or to marry for money, but that’s no different from what anyone else with a more conventional business might do.

I myself owned an escort service for the first few years of this century, but the changing world and the 2008 economic debacle killed any plans I had to retire on that; similarly, divorce ended my access to my wasband’s pension.  Currently, I’m working on building up my non-sex-work income streams, but unless a generous benefactor provides for me in his will or something like that, it seems unlikely I’ll ever be able to move beyond semi-retirement.  And in that respect, I’m afraid I’m a lot like many other self-employed people in the early 21st-century US.

P.S. – The original question was more specific and complex, but I felt it would be more instructive to generalize; if you’re curious about the original phrasing, just click on the link embedded in the question.

(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.)  

Scholars who pathologize sex workers in the classroom grant the state license to mete out gratuitous violence in the streets.  –  Rahsaan Mahadeo

Maggie in the Media

I was recently interviewed on an Australian sex worker radio show named Behind Closed Doors; it was originally supposed to be only one show, but Kitty, Dean & I were enjoying ourselves so much we just kept going and did a two-parter!  Here it is in podcast form (Part One & Part Two); I hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed talking!

The Course of a Disease

The Swedish rot has reached Eastern Europe:

Since July 1, in Latvia…[prostitution is technically not] illegal  as politicians have been unable to reach a compromise on this issue…The only [criminalization] proposal has been submitted by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par! (AP!) and its sets forth punishing only the buyer of the prostitution services and not the person providing them.  The proposal is to be reviewed in the Interior Ministry. Following this process, the ministry plans to bring the draft law for discussion in the government…

The Notorious Badge

Critics just can’t resist inserting their own dumb beliefs about whores into even good reviews:

Alice, the feature debut from Australian writer-director Josephine Mackerras, is…a leftfield take on female empowerment…Alice…discovers that her husband has cleaned out their accounts and stopped paying their mortgage; a bit of digging later and she discovers the money has been spent on prostitutes…With the bank threatening to foreclose on her home and a huge sum to pay…Alice agrees to work for the very escort agency her husband favoured; there is quite simply nothing else that will keep the roof over her head…Mackerras’s take on prostitution won’t be for everyone, and it does sugar-coat the profession somewhat, but it’s a sympathetic and often gutsy portrait of a woman doing what she must, and surviving, even thriving…

Acknowledging that selling sex is pragmatic and lucrative is “sugar-coating”.

Feminists and Other Puritans

An excerpt from The Feminist War on Crime by Aya Gruber

…The feminist penal regimes implemented in the 1980s and 1990s are now entrenched institutions overseen by prosecutors…administrators, and for-profit actors with vested interests in their continued survival.  Politicians are certainly not apologizing for VAWA…[and] plenty of feminists…remain committed not just to upholding the existing feminist crime control regimes and closing “loopholes” in them but also to creating new ones—new antitrafficking laws, revenge-porn laws, laws against hosting prostitution ads, [etc]…Campus antirape sentiments have proven a boon to prosecutors eager to implement strict versions of affirmative consent…and expand pro-prosecution trial rules…some of the most ardent prison critics…proceed as if there were a carve-out to the mass incarceration critique for sexual misconduct—including, or perhaps especially, intoxicated sex or sex without affirmative consent—even though there is no such carve-out for aggravated assault, drug dealing, or even murder…

Wise Investment (#1024)

In every country, sex workers, clients & everyone else harmed by “prostitution stings” needs to keep suing over them:

Liberal scholar [and long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party] Xu Zhangrun has hired two lawyers to prepare legal action against police who accused him of soliciting prostitution…Xu was dismissed by Tsinghua University in Beijing…after he was taken away by police who [claimed] that the…scholar had solicited prostitutes in the southwestern city of Chengdu last year.  Xu, who had taught at Tsinghua for 20 years, was sacked because of “moral corruption”…The law professor…[hired] lawyers Mo Shaoping and Shang Baojun, and former human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang…to represent him…in an attempt to overturn an administrative ruling b[ased on a]…confession…police [pretend he made but]…Xu [denies]…

The Cop Myth (#1045)

Sociologists may at last be admitting their role in creating the police state:

Now is the time for sociology to reckon with its role…in the production of a criminal legal system subsidized by Black captivity, dispossession, debt and death…Any academic attempt to distinguish between “good policing” and “bad policing” or “overpolicing” and “underpolicing” makes policing itself not just theoretically possible, but legitimate…The University of Minnesota has already committed to cutting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.  Now it and other sociology programs around the country must take the next step by canceling carceral curricula…According to an American Sociological Association report, “criminology/delinquency” was the highest-ranked specialization sought by employers…in 2019.  Courses like “Deviant Behavior,” “Criminal Behavior and Social Control”…and “Juvenile Delinquency” not only legitimize state violence, but also employ academics…sociologists fail to consider how “deviance,” “delinquency,” “criminal” and “terrorist” still conjure up racialized images that cops…and [spooks]…use…to…justify the killing of people of color…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1060)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

[Pennsylvania politician] Mike Folmer [was convicted on child pornography charges despite]…pleas [that the]…judge [should let him skate because Jesus]…Folmer [was]…sentence[d to 2 years in prison]…8 years on probation…[and] sex offender [registration] for 15 years…[his] defense attorney [also made the bizarre argument that he should be let off easy because he is a career sociopath]…“He had an addiction to pornography,” [attorney Brian] Perry said…Folmer [demonstrated his megalomania]…to the judge…[by comparing himself to] King David…

Diary #527

Are you familiar with the Ameraucana breed of chicken? It’s an ornamental variety, bred because it produces blue- or green-shelled eggs.  When I was buying chicks a few months ago, Jae wanted one, and she finally started laying last week (a month behind the layers, but that’s not surprising because that’s what they’re bred for).  It’s so nice to have fresh eggs again; we’re up to about a half-dozen a day, enough to have all we want and still give plenty away.  And until they reach full maturity, there’s all kind of crazy variation in size, shape and even contents (we’re getting several double-yolked ones a week, and they’re always obvious because they’re much larger than other eggs).  A few green apples are starting to fall off the trees, too, and Orville seems to like them; I’ll wait until they’re ripe to eat any myself, thanks.  And I think I’m going to get a cider press this year, too.  Right now I’m really busy with building the extension, but that should (knock wood) be mostly done by the end of the year, and then I can settle down into a mostly sedate rural life, running into town for appointments with regulars and continuing my writing and activism from here.  It’s not really a lot to ask for the latter days of a very tempestuous life; I only hope the gods, the Fates and the world agree to let me have it.