Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent. – Roman proverb
I encountered this article via a link from the SWOP site, and saw something very interesting about it which I decided to illustrate via a little judicious alteration. Read my modified version first:
A planned conference by sex workers, which was scheduled to start yesterday in Baltimore, was abruptly halted by the government, saying it was illegal. The conference was organized by the Committee for Women’s Sexual Autonomy, an international women’s rights organization with offices in Boston, and was to be held in a hotel in Baltimore. Addressing journalists in Annapolis yesterday, Attorney General Douglas Gansler said the conference, which government learnt of on Wednesday, had attracted prostitutes from New England, Virginia and Pennsylvania. “Government reiterates its position that prostitution is a punishable offence. While it is true that we have had problems with enforcing the law, the government is determined to defend innocent children who very often fall victim to selfish as well as misguided individuals who are promoting prostitution,” Gansler said, adding he informed the hotel that it could be held liable as an accessory to the crime of human trafficking. “Promotion of criminal acts under the claim of defense of one’s human rights is not one for this government.”
One of the officials of the organization, who refused to reveal her identity, only said: “If the meeting has been stopped, how can it continue?” She added that she was not aware of the topic and the function of the conference. Most sex workers in the United States, especially in cities, are less than 35 years old and join the sex trade due to different problems like poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Last year, participants discussed ways of protecting sex workers from HIV/AIDS amidst calls from the public to ban the meeting.
Not anything unusual, is it? In fact, it’s pretty typical prohibitionist grandstanding, right? Except for one thing: It isn’t true as I presented it; I changed the places and names and rewrote one sentence slightly. Here’s the original article; note the easy way American names fit into a story about a third-world country not exactly known for its stellar record on human rights. Are you disgusted? You certainly should be. Here is a list of all the countries in which prostitution is still illegal: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia, Botswana, Brunei, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, China, Comoros, The Congo, Croatia, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritria, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Korea (both), Kuwait, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauretania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. Take a good look at it; with a couple of exceptions every country on the list is either a totalitarian state, a country only recently emerged from totalitarianism, a theocracy or near-theocracy, a postage stamp, a third-world shithole or some combination of two or more of those categories.
Is this the company you want our country to be in? Apparently it’s the one our elected officials (and uneleted bureaucrats) want, and they’re working hard to make sure we look more and more like our comrades on the list all the time. In order to more closely resemble China and Islamic theocracies we need much more stringent internet censorship, and as I reported on October 2nd and November 17th, our Congress is trying to enact a law which will establish exactly that. This report appeared on the Techdirt website this past Thursday (November 18th):
This is hardly a surprise but, this morning (as previously announced), the lame duck Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move forward with censoring the internet via the COICA bill — despite a bunch of law professors explaining to them how this law is a clear violation of the First Amendment. What’s really amazing is that many of the same Senators have been speaking out against internet censorship in other countries, yet they happily vote to approve it here because it’s seen as a way to make many of their largest campaign contributors happy. There’s very little chance that the bill will actually get passed by the end of the term but, in the meantime, we figured it might be useful to highlight the 19 Senators who voted to censor the internet this morning:
Patrick J. Leahy — Vermont
Herb Kohl — Wisconsin
Jeff Sessions — Alabama
Dianne Feinstein — California
Orrin G. Hatch — Utah
Russ Feingold — Wisconsin
Chuck Grassley — Iowa
Arlen Specter — Pennsylvania
Jon Kyl — Arizona
Chuck Schumer — New York
Lindsey Graham — South Carolina
Dick Durbin — Illinois
John Cornyn — Texas
Benjamin L. Cardin — Maryland
Tom Coburn — Oklahoma
Sheldon Whitehouse — Rhode Island
Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota
Al Franken — Minnesota
Chris Coons — Delaware
This should be a list of shame. You would think that our own elected officials would understand the First Amendment but, apparently, they have no problem turning the US into one of the small list of authoritarian countries that censors internet content it does not like (in this case, content some of its largest campaign contributors do not like). We already have laws in place to deal with infringing content, so don’t buy the excuse that this law is about stopping infringement. This law takes down entire websites based on the government’s say-so. First Amendment protections make clear that if you are going to stop any specific speech, it has to be extremely specific speech. This law has no such restrictions. It’s really quite unfortunate that these 19 US Senators are the first American politicians to publicly vote in favor of censoring speech in America.
I feel constrained to point out that this list contains individuals from both of what Americans laughably refer to as “political parties”, and that some of these individuals call themselves “conservatives” while others pretend to be “liberals”; the truth, of course, is that they all belong to the Huge Bloated Government Party and their shared aim (it was a unanimous vote, remember) is the subjugation and thought control of the American people. It’s too bad we whores can’t unify enough to buy ourselves a couple of politicians; with the natural lobbying abilities inherent in our profession I’m sure we could swing a number of the “undecideds” and then the prostitution laws would start dropping quicker than you can say “campaign contribution”. Alas, we do not constitute a giant, faceless corporation with more money than God and therefore our opinions don’t count in the good old U$A.
“Freedom” used to mean something to Americans; politicians in every time and place have always tried to grab more power and suppress individual rights, but in the United States the people always resisted such attempts in the past. Our culture has grown tired and indolent, resisting tyranny is hard work, and the average modern American would rather surrender his wallet, weapons, privacy, rights and balls to the “authorities” in return for the empty promise of “protection”. He’s happy to go where he’s told to go, eat what he’s told to eat, watch what he’s allowed to watch and think what he’s told to think, and it does not seem to alarm him that his Uncle Sam is keeping company with a most unsavory crowd of late. And considering the sort of mangy mutts he’s chosen to lie down with, I shudder to think of the sort of plague the inevitable fleas might be carrying.