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The state may not use a butcher knife on a problem that requires a scalpel to fix.  –  Judge John T. Nixon

Where Are the Victims?

It’s always a “gang”, even when it clearly isn’t:

Hu Shuangyan…was part of a[n imaginary] gang that [rented] flats [to sex workers] in Kent, Essex and London…[she and her parter Zhang Dongning] tricked estate agents by posing as employees of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei…[she] was also convicted of money laundering…

A couple is not a “gang”, and if there wasn’t a stupid law against renting rooms to people engaged in a legal trade, there would have been no need for them to lie.

The More the Better 

“Mommy whores” are good, but “gramma whores” are even better:

…grandmother-of-seven Abby Roberts is…working six days a week selling sex to make ends meet.  With disabled husband Sorren unable to work, the 58 year old spends eight hours a day…[working] via…webcam…[and] also shoots six adult movies a month…”As an average I work about eight hours a day.  Some people call me a workaholic but I just love it actually,” she says…that’s the way it has been for 18 years because when I fell in love with my husband I knew he had a very heavy disability”…She and Sorren…were regular swingers before he suffered a heart attack and was told he couldn’t have sex again…

If Men Were Angels

“Youth pastors” are as bad as cops:

A youth pastor at a Colorado Springs church has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child…Stephen Michael Houlihan…[of] Fellowship of the Rockies church, was booked June 8 on charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, internet luring of a child, and obscenity…

Censor Chic (#894)

Google is now so big it isn’t even accountable to its own shareholders:

A shareholder resolution aimed at halting Google’s  efforts to bring a censored version of its search engine to China has failed.  Shareholders tabled a resolution to demand Google put the brakes on its controversial search engine efforts in China.  The program, internally dubbed “Dragonfly”, is…a censorship-friendly search engine with the capability to hide results at the behest of Beijing…Google chief Sundar Pichai…describ[es] China as an “important” market…

Whereas just not being evil (as Google used to claim in its motto) is not so important.

The End of the Beginning (#915) 

Maybe we’re about to witness the beginning of the end of these evil laws:

The Supreme Court of Alaska ruled on Friday that Alaska’s sex offender registration statute violated the due process rights of out of state offenders by requiring them to register as sex offenders without allowing them to be heard.  The court…concluded that the statute…was overbroad and violated due process because it did not provide them an opportunity to demonstrate they were no[t]…a threat to the public.  The court elected not to invalidate the ASORA but rather to allow…the individual who brought the case…to file a civil action in the state’s superior court in an attempt to prove that he no longer poses a risk…

Uncommon Sense (#916)

Because whores are morons whose lives and businesses must be micromanaged by governments:

A flurry of recent media reports have suggested the Prostitutes Protection Act (herafter ProstSchG) had failed to achieve its stated goals and would not sufficiently protect people engaged in prostitution.  Voice4Sexworkers…firmly rejects that notion:  The ProstSchG is well on its way to achieve all of the federal government’s desired goals and effects…Germany’s Basic Law…which grants the inviolability of one’s home…no longer applies to sex workers.  Occupational freedom…is being undermined through the registration procedures…It was clear from the outset that the law would be particularly problematic for people from countries where prostitution is illegal, such as Bulgaria or Romania.  If they register as sex workers in Germany, they risk receiving mail in their countries of origin, despite the promised option to have any related mail delivered to a different mailing address…Tax offices flout this provision knowingly and deliberately, and in doing so, they greatly endanger the lives of sex workers in their countries of origin…The entire construct of the ProstSchG is intended to deter people from entering prostitution and render sex work impossible in most places…

Opting Out (#926) 

Any non-politician would have given this up as a bad idea by now:

The government is under pressure to delay its controversial online pornography age verification scheme for a third time [from July 15th to October 15th], or risk “nefarious” companies “using this opportunity to harvest and manipulate user data”…the Digital Policy Alliance…[ex]plains that…unless the scheme is delayed there will be “less protection for public data”…

Here’s more detail on that from the Open Rights Group:

New age restrictions on pornography…are a “privacy timebomb”…[because in typical government fashion] the data protection in place to protect consumers is “vague, imprecise and largely a ‘tick box’ exercise”…The UK government claims the new measures are necessary in order to prevent children and young adults from accessing adult content online…[even though] the new rules are unlikely to prevent tech-savvy children from reaching restricted websites…

Watershed (#934)

It took prohibitionists two months to freak out over an article saying everyone has human rights:

Teen Vogue tweeted an article titled, “Why Sex Work Is Real Work,” and many clutched their pearls at the audacity of talking to teens about sex work…sex therapist Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng[‘s]…central argument was that sex workers provide services that help people meet and understand their sexual needs in the same way that her sex counseling does…[prohibitionist] talking heads quickly posted their disdain:  “Why is a teen magazine promoting prostitution to their 13-year-old readers?”  Others falsely equated sex work with sex trafficking…One commenter pointed out that Teen Vogue is a part of Condé Nast in [a bizarre stretch] to falsely equate discussing sex work with pedophilia…Of course, Dr. Mofokeng’s article defends nothing other than the safe exchange of sexual services between consenting adults…Furthermore, scandalized reactions to teens learning about sex work are out of touch with reality.  About 40% of high school teens report to be sexually active, making conversations about sexual health and women’s issues crucially relevant in teens’ lives…

Dangerous Speech (#942)

Another deep dive into the facts of the persecution of Backpage:

…In the years before their arrest, Lacey and Larkin had successfully beat back charges like these in court.  They took refuge not only in the First Amendment but also in Section 230…Congress’ great gift to the internet….[which] wouldn’t exist without it.  After all, you can’t build or sustain a giant network if you’re getting sued every time a user says or does something objectionable…Lacey and Larkin…won case after case, with the support of Big Tech and civil libertarians alike.  But by the time the Feds descended on Paradise Valley that morning in the spring of 2018…the tech industry…had thrown them under the bus.  Their top lieutenant had flipped.  And Congress had used them as an excuse to finally accomplish what it had been trying to do for more than 20 years—tear a hole in Section 230…Silicon Valley had better hope they win.  United States v. Lacey is a dangerous case, with potential consequences far beyond the freedom of two aging antiauthoritarians…

There’s a lot of good info here, but watch for the writer’s bias; she seems to be a crypto-prohibitionist and it’s visible in a few places (such as calling Lacey & Larkin “digital pimps”).  That’s hardly unusual for Wired, which seems unable to publish an article about sex work that lacks major issues.

Diary #469

Some of you may already know that my planned Florida trip sort of collapsed last week.  After days of adjusting my schedule to Eastern Time, I got up at 5:30 AM Thursday and went to the airport about 2 hours later…only to be told that there had already been four flights cancelled, and the flight I was scheduled on was so hopelessly overbooked I immediately sat down and picked a backup route.  When it looked like I’d be booted from that one as well I went to the website and tried to find another route, but there was simply no way; nearly every flight out of Seattle or into any of the major airports in Florida was hopelessly overbooked, often by as many as 8 or 9 seats.  And the few exceptions out of Seattle or into Florida didn’t match up.  So, I texted with Alex Andrews of SWOP Behind Bars and we decided the most sensible course of action was for me to stay put and appear by video; though the video link didn’t work out staying put turned out to be a good idea, because the flight they automatically rolled me over to (which would’ve been a redeye departing at 10 PM) was cancelled a few hours later.  I don’t know what was going on, but it affected multiple airlines and multiple airports; summer travel is always bad, but this was absurd.  I’m hoping nobody wants to go to Washington DC in August, so I don’t have this trouble when it comes time for Woodhull…but all the same, I think I’ll go a couple of days early to be sure.

Joey the Player

Last week Alex Andrews of SWOP Behind Bars asked me to spread the word about this serial predator, or more specifically the effort to bring him down.  If you have information and would like to talk to the lawyer she describes below, please Twitter DM SWOP Behind Bars, the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance or the Best Practices Policy Project or see the lawyer’s contact info below.  If you’re not on Twitter, I can forward your email to Alex.  I’ve also attached all the info on this monster people have shared on Twitter; his email address and physical address are here, and a few of the many phone numbers he’s used here.  As you can see, there would be more than enough had he not cunningly chosen to target a group cops consider subhuman.

Joey the Player has been a predator in the sex worker community for many years; barely a month goes by without a horror story of his assaulting an unknowing provider.  Just last week there was an incident in Las Vegas.  And of course since sex workers were kicked off the internet in the FOSTA debacle, its been really hard to continue to warn each other about dangerous and abusive clients.  And because of criminalization – we can’t go report these horrific assaults to police because they would probably put a target on us, rape us themselves or do some kind of harmful cop shit that would make our lives harder than they are.  Well, there is a good chance that Joey’s time is up; last week a brave NYC City sex worker made contact with an attorney at the Sher Tremonte law firm who has stepped forward to our request to negotiate immunity agreements for any sex worker who was willing to report the violence against her.  But that wasn’t all; this lawyer is ruthless and he wants to see Joey locked up in prison for the rest of his life.  The New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance has been working on a strategy for a long time and SWOP Behind Bars wants to support their efforts, especially since most of his crimes have taken place in New Jersey and NYC.  If you have been victimized by this sleaze or have information and would like to talk (pro bono) to the lawyers, please contact Noam (nbiale@shertremonte.com) or Anna (aestevao@shertremonte.com) or call 212-202-2600.

Links #468

I’m going to put a cap in your ass.  –  Phoenix “police officer” professionalism

I’ve been sharing a lot of vintage instrumentals lately, so here’s one you’ve undoubtedly heard (because it was ubiquitous in TV commercials, “Please Stand By” notices and other TV artifacts of the ’70s) but may not have known the name of before.  The links above it were provided by Scott Greenfield, Nina Hartley, Popehat, Eric Sprankle, Stacey Swimme, and Amy Alkon, in that order.

From the Archives

News editors run sex trafficking hoaxes as fact…and…suggest there is an epidemic of paid child rape in America.  –  Rory Fleming

Forward and Backward (#581)

Rebranding “prostitution-free zones” as “human trafficking-free zones” doesn’t make them more constitutional:

Temple Terrace became the most recent government in the Tampa Bay area to declare itself a human TraffickingFree Zone.  It’s part of a [propaganda campaign] by an [“end demand”] organization…The cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, New Port Richey and Dade City have [jumped] on to the [bandwagon], as has Pasco County…After the [magical] proclamation…the organization [indoctrinated] all city employees in how to [snitch on]…sex [workers]…The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, headquartered in Tampa, was founded about three years ago as a Christian nonprofit…In addition to its TraffickingFree Zones campaign, the institute runs a [private prison] in Central Florida for…[underage male] sex [workers]…

The More the Better (#585)

Prudes like to pretend sex work isn’t part of the entertainment field:

When Stormy Daniels announced her first gig as a stand-up comic in March, [prudish, envious] comedians recoiled…but in fact she’s one of dozens of current and former such stand-ups, and they’re part of a long tradition…The plots of many ancient Greek and Roman comedies revolved around prostitution (like Menander’s Sikyonioi and Terence’s Hecyra), and American comics performed in burlesque and vaudeville shows in the early part of the 20th century.  The comedians Margaret Cho and Roseanne Barr have been open about their sex-work pasts.  Aaron Berg…a former stripper and current stand-up, pointed to “a very strong history between burlesque and comedic timing”…Both universal and taboo, inherently ridiculous and emotionally fraught, sex is a staple of stand-up routines…Wendi Starling…a sex worker and comic, starts one of her bits, “I’m a terrible girlfriend but a great employee.”  Kaytlin Bailey…a former sex worker, current stand-up and communications director for Decriminalize Sex Work, said that sex workers and comedians occupy a similar role:  “You’re allowed to do things that normal citizens cannot.  You’re like a celebrated rule breaker.”  Even so, many sex workers told me that like Daniels, when they first entered comedy clubs, they weren’t particularly welcome…

Beside Kaytlin, I personally know two other sex workers who do stand-up.

Cops and Robbers (#712)

Funny, I don’t remember where in the Gospels Jesus told people to attack harlots:

On 2nd June…AGAP (LGBT Rwanda) was forcibly removed from its office which it has shared with a church in Gisenyi…since 2013…a [mob]…attacked the group in their office, throwing stones and shouting that LGBT sex workers must leave the neighbourhood “in the name of the gospel“.  The [mob] destroyed equipment and other belongings in the office, including equipment for HIV testing.  AGAP is now without premises in Gisenyi, and…LGBT people and sex workers no longer have access to local services…AGAP has called on the local legal authorities to take action…

Welcome To Our World (#789)

The state owns women’s bodies and controls what we can do with them.  Feminism!

The proposal to legalize surrogacy in New York [h]as [predictably encountered opposition from rich, powerful white women] including Gloria Steinem…[as in sex work, prohibitionists don’t like]…poor women [to have the option of earning]…the sizable payments it can bring [without having to be rich women’s maids or labor in sweatshops to make their clothes]…The bill [thus]…remains stalled in the Assembly, where several prominent female [politicians] have expressed [their desire to control all other women]…

Whither Canada? (#871)

Liberals not only lied about repealing the law; they’re actively defending it:

The judge who will decide if [Canada’s] new prostitution laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms must weigh [prohibitionist fantasies]…with…individual rights…[a prosecutor bizarrely claimed]…Michael Carnegie…said…”children exposed to [sex rays are magically]…harmed [if]…sexual services [exist anywhere in the world]”…Tiffany Harvey and Hamad Anwar[‘s]…lawyers say the law puts sex workers at risk by forcing them to do their work underground, therefore violating the workers’ charter right to security of the person…[to satisfy] the [prohibitionist fantasy] that sex work is inherently exploitative and harmful…Carnegie said…”it’s necessary to deprive people of their rights to protect the [fantasies and sadfeelz of prudes and control freaks]”…

If Men Were Angels (#914) 

“Pastors” are almost as bad as cops:

[The] pastor of a Southern Baptist church in…Harris County [Texas] faces charges of molesting a teenage relative, sometimes multiple times a day, over the course of two years…Stephen Bratton, who resigned from Grace Family Baptist Church [after he was accused, molested the relative]…from 2013 to 2015…Bratton’s…wife…[filed for] an emergency protection order…Bratton recently testified in support of failed House Bill 896 that would have abolished abortions in Texas and opened up the possibility that prosecutors could charge a woman who undergoes the procedure with criminal homicide…more than 700 people — mostly children — ha[ve] been victimized by hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders since 1998…

To Molest and Rape (#926)

When a boss cop rapes, the victim is often underage:

Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain has been arrested on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile and a count of sexual battery…if convicted, Strain would face a mandatory life sentence…there are…four victims…and the times of the crimes spanned from 1975 to 2004, when Strain was sheriff…one of the victims was under the age of 12 and at least one was related to the ex-Sheriff…It’s unclear if any of [the] charges are related to Mark Finn…[whom] Strain began sexually abusing…more than 40 years ago, when Strain was a teenager and Finn was just 6-years-old…

Safe Position (#928)

Even my jaded self is impressed with the speed this is happening in New York:

A…candidate for district attorney…plans to single-handedly make the borough of Queens the first major metropolitan area in the country where sex work would, effectively, not be a crime.  If Tiffany Cabán wins…and actually puts her plan in place…it would mark one of the biggest successes for the [US] sex work decriminalization movement [so far]…Queens…[is] home to nearly 2.4 million people, roughly the population of Houston…[and is] one of the most heavily policed parts of New York…when it comes to sex work arrests.  The [DA’s] office has the power to decline to prosecute people that the police arrest for specific crimes — similar to how former Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson declined to prosecute possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2014…Cabán said that if she’s elected, “on day one it comes from being part of a memo to our district attorneys saying you will not prosecute sex workers, customers, and you will not prosecute under the promoting prostitution charges”…

Loose Cannons (#946)

“Sex trafficking” hysteria’s impending collapse has been helped along by the excesses of Florida “authorities”:

Bruce Colton, the chief elected prosecutor of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties in Florida…aggressively pursued a…sex offender prosecution against Kaitlyn Hunt for dating a slightly younger girl while both attended high school together…earlier in his career…he…argued that…he should be able to prosecute kids as young as 15 as adults without any judicial hearing…Colton also personally decided that trafficking was central to the spas and massage parlors tied to the Kraft case, despite the lack of evidence for this.  But he does not need the evidence—or even a false confession—when he has RICO…Lixia Zhu, one of the massage parlor owners, currently faces 30 years on a RICO plea deal…[she] was coerced into signing…

The article then goes on to attack “sex trafficking” hysteria in general.  The times, they are a-changing.

The apparent path of the sun will reach its northernmost point at 15:54 UTC today, marking the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the shortest day of the year & first day of winter in the Southern.  May all of your plans come to fruition in the fullness of time, and Blessed Be!

Blind Spot

It makes partisans and other tribalists nuts that my positions are based in principles and probable results rather than tribe-membership & “sending messages”.  That’s why they (idiotically) try to shame me out of my positions instead of intellectually challenging them; no sooner do they think they “have my number” than I say, write or tweet something that the partisan brain is unable to process.  See, all tribalists have a blind spot:  they assume their own tribe, group, party, sect, etc is good and right and can be trusted with power, while their designated “them” group is wholly and completely bad and wrong and in need of Punishment.  So if I tweet about LGBT rights, but then say I think it’s wrong (not to mention a fucking waste of everyone’s time) to use the power of the state to destroy an anti-queer bigot, some people are completely unable to comprehend why I don’t see a cake-baker in Colorado as the Second Coming of Hitler.  The other day there was a big hulabaloo about that rich kid who didn’t get to go to Harvard because he made racist tweets a year and a half ago, and once again the partisans were confused that I retweeted tweets mocking the situation; tweets pointing out the incredible hypocrisy of politicians for saying “Should someone’s mistake at 16 destroy his whole future?” while also thinking it’s hunky-dory to put 14-year-olds on trial as adults; and tweets saying it’s a bit creepy that people now go trolling through others’ social media histories for the express purpose of ruining the target’s life, and institutions eagerly oblige the snitch.  Partisans don’t see the principles at stake here; all they see is a reprehensible person that they want to see hurt, so they completely forget that a weapon once given to the state can never be taken away.  Someone argued that in the kid’s case, the comments were made only 18 months ago and were therefore basically the present.  I replied, “If you think it’ll stop at 18 months, 18 years or even 18 decades, you haven’t been paying attention.”  Also: I’m quite sure a prosecutor wouldn’t accept, “But she would’ve been of age in 18 months!” as a defense.  Either people below the magic Instant of Shazam are helpless, incompetent “children” incapable of decision-making, or they aren’t; you can’t have it both ways without hypocrisy.  If it’s wrong for Christian bigots to use government violence against LGBT people, it’s also wrong for vengeful LGBT people to use government violence against Christian bigots.  But people don’t see it this way; oh, everybody tells their kids “two wrongs don’t make a right”, but they don’t really believe it.  What they believe in is us vs. them, and that it’s perfectly OK to use state violence against “them”…regardless of the consequences to everyone.