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Archive for July 2nd, 2011

When petty people get into power they consider themselves unexcelled in the world.  –  Chinese proverb

People who crave power are never satisfied with merely holding it; in order for their perversion to be satisfied they must wield it against others, preferably with destructive results, and when there are no more or less legitimate targets they simply attack peaceful non-criminals, never concerning themselves with whether their targets are actually hurting anyone.  The mere violation of an arbitrary rule is held to be sufficient grounds for persecution, often at great expense to the state and citizens, because the state’s authority must go unquestioned, no matter how inoffensive the target or how great the damage done by the exertion of such authority.

New Orleans’ Nasty Little “Sex Offender” Game (August 17th, 2010)

Regular readers know that prostitutes in Louisiana are routinely charged with the ludicrously-named “Crime Against Nature” felony in addition to simple prostitution, but while it’s generally dropped as part of a plea deal with white middle-class escorts like me it tends to stick for poor (especially black or transsexual) streetwalkers, who are then committed to the “sex offender” registry for decades (40% of Orleans Parish “sex offenders” are there for this non-crime).  In my column of February 26th I reported on a federal challenge (Doe vs. Jindal) to this law and mentioned that WWAV had other strategies for defeating it besides the court case.  Well, I can now tell you what I was asked to withhold in February:  One of those strategies was a legislative one, and it bore fruit Thursday (June 30th) as Governor Bobby Jindal signed a law reducing “solicitation for crime against nature” to a misdemeanor, thus removing the registration requirement.  The litigation must continue because everyone previously convicted is still classified as a felon, but considering the new law I think there’s a good chance the case will succeed and those who were victimized by the arbitrary pronouncements of little tin gods in the police and prosecutor’s offices will soon have a chance at a normal life again.  Congratulations to WWAV and its allies for this monumental victory over a two-century-old injustice!

Something Rotten in Sweden (November 13th, 2010)

Montgomery County, Maryland claims to be so concerned about the welfare of prostitutes that it is willing to infantilize us, construct elaborate and expensive schemes to violate our civil rights and those of our clients, and waste thousands of man-hours (and untold funds) in cruising hooker sites and writing libelous propaganda filled with weird rationalizations, distorted information and blatant lies.  But lest my readers believe this sick hatred is directed only at whores, I present this story which demonstrates that Montgomery County is committed to the suppression of all victimless crimes, no matter how small:

You can make a fortune selling parking spots outside the US Open, but don’t even dream of setting up a lemonade stand.  A county inspector ordered…kids to shut down the stand…and after they allegedly ignored a couple of warnings, the inspector fined their parents $500…Jennifer Hughes, the director of permitting for the county, says it’s technically illegal to run even the smallest lemonade stand…but inspectors usually don’t go looking for them.  She said this one was unusually large.  Hughes also says they’ve warned all kinds of other vendors they couldn’t operate near the US Open because of concerns about traffic and safety…What’s funny is that the county has given scores of other neighbors permits to let golf fans park on their front lawns.  The permits cost almost $300, but prices per car run as much as $60 a day.  And some neighbors are reportedly raking in tens of thousands of dollars…

The bad publicity of course resulted in the county backpedaling on the stand and waiving the fine, which demonstrates exactly why sex workers and those who support us need to keep calling attention to the rampant abuses committed against us by the police, such as in the following item:

Social Autoimmune Disorder (January 12th, 2011)

In this article I pointed out that societies, like individual creatures, sometimes develop disorders in which “the systems which were meant to protect society from invaders or other troublesome organisms are instead turned against some of its own systems, sometimes even vital systems.”  The column mentioned the new and legally troubling trend of police violating the First Amendment by charging the owners of escort websites for “facilitating prostitution” via escort ads on their sites, despite the fact that “courts around the country have held that advertisements posted on a host website are merely ‘republished’ material, with the host having no responsibility for the ads’ contents.”  This form of persecution has been tried before and failed, but police don’t care because:  1) it isn’t their money they’re wasting; 2) though the website owner will prevail, it will cost him a great deal and inflict tremendous suffering, which is what the police enjoy most; and 3) they may be able to trick or frighten some escorts and clients into revealing themselves.  The most recent example appears in this June 20th story from KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

New Jersey…physics professor David Flory thought he had a fool-proof operation.  Access to his website, “Southwest Companions,” was highly restricted.  Officials said only clients that were verified by prostitutes could gain access…”Once you became a trusted member you had access to reviews of the girls…where they would actually write reviews of the girls they’ve slept with, what acts they would commit, how much their pricing,” [APD Lt. William] Roseman said.  Six months ago, a prostitute working with Flory gave investigators a tip [which] investigators used…to become a trusted member [sic] of the website…prostitutes worked with police to make sure Flory believed the agents were trustworthy clients.  After six months of undercover work, investigators got trusted status and were able to access all the information on the site.  Then agents got a tip that Flory was headed to New Mexico on website business.  “We had enough information to do the…warrants…so we began tracking him once he arrived in New Mexico and…Sunday…he was having coffee at a Starbucks when the two detectives walked behind him,” Roseman stated.  As police arrested Flory, they saw that he was logged online to his site, “Southwest Companion,” [sic] on his phone.  “He told us that he wanted a secure site for people to ‘hobby’ that they did not have to worry about law enforcement.  So he intentionally set this up as a site to have prostitution occur without the fear of law enforcement taking over,” Roseman explained.

According to police, most of the 1,400 clients are from New Mexico, mainly the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas.  Police said they are working to identify those clients and their names could be made public through court documents related to the case.  Officials are telling those who used prostitutes through the site to come forward before authorities knock at their homes or work.  Investigators said 200 of the prostitutes linked to the site are from Albuquerque.  Many of them charged a minimum of $250.00 for sex acts.  Florey [sic] is being held on $100,000 cash only or surety bond.

Professor David Flory

Regular readers have seen enough of these stories by now to recognize the typical features, such as the phrasing of ordinary actions as nefarious:  “what acts they would commit” rather than “what services they offered” (as in the phrase, “she committed manicure on my hands”), and even better “he intentionally set this up” (as opposed to most people, who set up their websites by accident).  Then there’s the reporter’s gloating over others’ misfortunes (see the first line) and the cops’ masturbatory bragging about their “investigation” and the downplaying of the bullying and deception used to further it; the story claims “a prostitute working with Flory” (i.e. advertising on the site) “gave investigators a tip” (i.e. she was arrested and interrogated in a back room, then threatened with having her kids taken away and other monstrous violations until she agreed to act as a Judas goat).  And of course there’s the typical cop strutting and throwing around empty threats, the weird passive-voice constructions like “have prostitution occur”, and the goofy puritanisms such as “used prostitutes” and “charged for sex acts”.  But the last and most important feature of just about every online story about a prostitution bust these days is the comment thread, featuring a few vulgar responses from cretins about “selling our bodies”, “spreading disease”, “forced by pimps”, etc…and many, many more from citizens wondering why public funds are wasted in pursuit of misdemeanors while loose-cannon cops are free to go around shooting people in the back (and bragging about it on the internet) without fear of repercussions for their crimes.

In the second half of the June 28th episode of Out FM, Liz Coplen of SWOP and Jill McCracken of SWWB discuss the Flory Case at length.

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