We recipients of the boon of liberty have always been ready, when faced with discomfort, to discard any and all first principles of liberty, and, further, to indict those who do not freely join with us in happily arrogating those principles. – David Mamet
Four short articles on subjects we’ve visited before.
How Old is Oldest? (March 12th)
Satoshi Kanazawa is no stranger to controversy, but if he had realized the firestorm his May 15th Scientific Fundamentalist column would touch off he might’ve picked a different subject. The column attempts to explain why interviewers for a large, long-term government study called “Add Health”, who were asked to rate their interviewees’ physical attractiveness, tended to rate black women as less attractive than other women, yet did not rate black men as less attractive than other men. The controversy has been described in many, many articles, but though this May 17th report from Huffington Post is less inflammatory than most it still makes the same basic error all the others do: representing the offending opinion as Kanazawa’s own, when in fact he clearly stated in the article that it was the interviewers who rated the women. Kanazawa was attacked as “racist” and the controversy has resulted in the end of his association with Psychology Today and may even have imperiled his academic position, yet nobody seems interested in recognizing that he didn’t make up the data, he only analyzed it.
Now, Kanazawa’s analysis may, as one of his colleagues at Psychology Today argues, be incorrect; I’m not good enough with statistics to follow the rebuttal. And Kanazawa certainly could have been much more careful with his phraseology; whenever I approach an emotionally-laden topic I choose my words very carefully indeed so my meaning is unmistakably clear. But I’m the Princess of Paranoia and 99.9% of the human race words its essays with far less caution than I employ in the composition of my grocery list. What’s worse, most people read others’ writing even less carefully, with the result that most readers saw the words “black women less attractive”, jumped up screaming “racism!” and instantly began spreading outrage. I can certainly understand why black women would be upset about the article, but the attacks on Kanazawa constitute a classic case of killing the messenger. In a free country we have the right to be mistaken or offensive, and if scientists are to be censored or even lose their jobs for being wrong or pissing people off, you can kiss scientific progress in the Western world goodbye.
Backwards Into the Future (March 30th)
Colorado “authorities” are apparently so certain of the vast profits they’re going to reap from robbing sex workers’ clients, that they’re spending money they don’t yet have to harass other sex workers:
Colorado Springs authorities…assign[ed] seven detectives to spend $700 at a strip club as part of a [March 5th] liquor compliance audit and prostitution sting…[which] found alcohol violations but no prostitution…Lt. John Godsey…says the $700 came from money seized in other undercover investigations. Godsey says $100 per…[man] trying to blend in seems about right…An attorney for the club says the owners voluntarily surrendered the club’s liquor license. The club is now all nude and doesn’t serve liquor.
Readers from civilizations more advanced than Colorado may not understand that last line; in some American states dancers in clubs where liquor is served can only go topless, and clubs which allow fully-nude dancing can’t serve liquor. Presumably, states with such laws believe that exceeding a certain “sin density” in a confined area will cause a degradation of the space-time continuum, or something. In any case, here’s yet another example of armed hooligans being paid to indulge their perversions (in this case trying to trick strippers into crossing one of the arbitrary lines which will excuse their being abducted and humiliated) on company time and at the taxpayers’ expense.
Subtle Pimping (April 8th)
It’s official; Kristin Davis is now the third member of The Honest Courtesan’s Hall of Shame along with Karen Sypher and Capri Anderson. Regular readers will recall that this dishonor is reserved for those whores who have most disgraced our profession by their incredibly disgusting behavior. I first took notice when Davis claimed only 5% of whores were professional and nominated her when she claimed that 80% of escorts are coerced, but these egregious violations of sisterhood had not yet been crowned by a blatant violation of professional ethics until May 19th, when she revealed or claimed (the veracity of the statement doesn’t matter) that disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was once a client of hers:
Kristin Davis said she provided young women for the IMF chief in 2006…and that one complained about his “aggressive” behaviour. “He was a client of my agency…When men abuse women I’m no longer going to protect their identities”. Mr. Strauss-Kahn…has been charged with sexually attacking a 32-year-old hotel maid at the Manhattan Sofitel…He denies the claims and is being held in Riker’s Island prison. Miss Davis…said Mr. Strauss-Kahn…wanted an ‘All-American girl’, with a fresh face, from the mid-West,” she said. “A girl in January 2006 complained he was rough and angry, and said she didn’t want to see him again”. In September 2006…[another girl] reported that “he was rough”, said Miss Davis, adding: “She told me not to send any new girls to him”…
Davis’ excuse for the ethical violation is pure bullshit; if she truly cared about other women’s safety she wouldn’t be attempting to build her reputation at our expense by promoting bogus statistics which politicians could use to justify further criminalization of our profession. She knows very well that just because a client is rough with a working girl does not mean he’s going to commit rape; if anything, rough consensual encounters may satisfy his urge to overpower women. That’s not to say I approve of such behavior; if I had several girls complain about a client I wouldn’t send anyone else to him, either. But that still doesn’t constitute evidence of rape any more than reading a book about explosives means that a person is guilty of a bombing. Kristin Davis doesn’t care about “men abusing women”; her behavior has made it abundantly clear that she cares only about herself and will say whatever will get her the most attention, whether it’s true or not and no matter whom it hurts.
The Eye of the Beholder (May 11th)
Individual liberties are not subject to restriction merely because they offend others; unless a third party is actually injured no government has the right to ban consensual adult behavior, even if that behavior upsets or disgusts most people. Back in December there was a perfect example when Columbia University professor David Epstein was charged with incest for a three-year relationship with his adult daughter, and recently another father-daughter couple appeared on a TV talk show (as reported in Jezebel on May 17th):
Recently The Steve Wilkos Show…aired a…story about a father and his 18-year-old daughter who had been estranged during the girl’s childhood but reconnected through MySpace when the daughter, Britney, became an adult. They struck up a romantic relationship…The footage—which features Britney and her father, Morgan, in a deep French kiss…is disturbing to say the least, but apparently it gets worse…Wilkos mentions that the couple “provided proof” that they were in a sexual relationship, which one source tells us was “video documentation” and that the “dad had filmed it”…
I don’t mind telling you that I find this creepy, icky, weird and sad on a number of levels and that I’m 95% sure that the woman will regret it at some point in the future, but I could say the same thing about doing cocaine or obsessive levels of body piercing. In the days before reliable birth control and genetic testing incest laws had the valid rationale of preventing inbreeding, but with the advent of those resources (and the descent of eugenics into disfavor) such arguments have lost their former impact. So should we really ban sexual relationships just because others find them skeevy? If you think so, tell that to your friends who support same-sex marriage. Being a free adult means having the “right to be wrong,” to make decisions others find questionable or even distressing and which may even result in considerable harm to oneself. Still not convinced? Take a look at the debate in the comment thread after that article and see how you feel about statements like “Do you actually believe that just because a woman says ‘okay’ to have sex, that everything’s okay?” The arguments against tolerance – that adult women cannot be trusted to make their own sexual decisions, that in a “bad” relationship it’s always the man who is wrong, that there can be a crime without a victim – are the same ones used to rationalize criminalization of sex work and a host of other things. Tolerating others’ unpleasant or even self-destructive behavior is the price we pay for others tolerating ours.