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Archive for October, 2011

Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.  –  Pablo Picasso

One year ago today my second monthly Q & A column appeared, and this will be my last regular one; as part of my gradual decrease in workload, I’ve decided to handle questions individually as they appear rather than waiting to share them all together at the end of the month.  So don’t worry, I’ll still be answering your questions; I simply won’t be doing it at one set time every month.

What do you think of female sex tourists?  There’s a Wikipedia page on it and it’s a phenomenon that’s been going on for a while.  Since you’ve pointed out that it’s hard for gigolos to succeed, I thought it was interesting that a whole tourist industry is propped up by horny women.

Female sex tourists A) are not as common as the media would have you believe; B) gravitate to a few specific places, thus concentrating their numbers*; C) are usually just doing it as a one-time fling, and D) are still mostly looking for romance and excitement, which is why they seek this in exotic places rather than at home.

*It’s the same way that the government taking literally a fraction of a cent per dollar on property taxes adds up to millions.

Why are most pimps black?  And when Heidi Klum stated that she fell in love with Seal when she saw his penis through his gym shorts, was she telling the truth?

I’m not sure what the two of these have to do with one another, but since the question was presented like this I’ll go with it.  Most pimps aren’t black; that’s a Hollywood stereotype further promoted by the rap music industry.  Even if black men represent a disproportionate percentage of all pimps (which they may or may not), they still aren’t the majority.  As for Heidi Klum, only she knows the truth, but whores (including models who trade on their sexiness) are notorious for using the Myth of the Wanton to drum up business.  Every time you hear one do that, just think of the streetwalker in Full Metal Jacket saying “Me so horny, me love you long time.”  Same deal.  Guys eat that shit up, so hookers capitalize on it.  Furthermore, I doubt any sane woman has ever “fallen in love” with a man from seeing his penis; even very visual women aren’t generally attracted to disembodied parts, and only really maladjusted or hopelessly naïve women confuse lust with love.

Do you have any sympathy with the parents (especially fathers) of prostitutes?  If you had children, would you want them to work as sex workers?  Would it be your first preference?  I ask because, ultimately, for something to be ethical, it must be acceptable behavior for anyone, not something that is deemed as acceptable but not for one’s self or one’s own. 

I don’t have a right to determine what my children do with their lives, and neither does anyone else outside of royalty.  If Denise had wanted to be an escort I would’ve helped her, but she wanted to be a scientist so I helped her to achieve that instead.  As for fathers, while I sympathize with a man’s desire to protect his “little girl” he has to let go sometime, and any man who thinks that a modern American girl isn’t having sex with guys is a fool.  And if he acknowledges that she’s having casual sex but thinks it’s “better” for her to spread her legs for a lot of penniless nitwits for free rather than to do it for a carefully-screened clientele for big bucks, I honestly can’t help him.

However, I disagree with your final statement; I think recreational drugs should be legal, but I’d still have a fit if I found out Grace, Denise or my husband were doing cocaine.  The state has no right to tell people what to do with their own bodies, but that doesn’t mean an individual has to quietly accept what she perceives as self-destructive behavior in a loved one, though she must also recognize that loved one has free will and must ultimately decide the course of her own life.  Furthermore, there’s nothing wrong with parents holding their children to what they think of as a higher standard, as long as they understand that A) they only have authority over their own kids, and B) once those kids become adults they may have different ideas.  One of the standard maternal replies to, “But Susie’s allowed to do such-and-such” was always “I’m not Susie’s mother, I’m yours.”  And the state is not and should not attempt to be anyone’s mother.

I have a blog and have to deal with all sorts of spam comments, but I never see any on yours; how do you stop them all?

In a word, Akismet.  It’s a feature of WordPress, and you can also get it for blogs on other domains.  I don’t know how it does its magic, but it’s phenomenal; the whole time I’ve had this blog only ONE spam comment has ever made it through, and it still had to go through the same moderation as all comments from new email addresses do, so I caught and deleted it before any of my readers had to be annoyed by it.  At the same time, it’s pretty rare that a good comment is flagged as spam (maybe two or three times a month), and that’s usually because it contains multiple links; even then, it’s easy to “unspam” such comments and let them through.  I feel for anyone who doesn’t have this useful software; according to my statistics, over a third of all comments are spam (as of today, 8679 spam vs. 11,879 real comments).  I recently encountered a blog post with five comments, all but one of which were spam!

In light of the controversy around this topic, I completely understand if you don’t want to answer it in a column, but I read a number of sex worker blogs, and on every single one where the topic has come up, the women have preferred circumcised men.  So I have a two-fold question: 1) Is this because the average uncircumcised man doesn’t care for it properly, and therefore the odds of getting a non-gross dick are better if the guy is circumcised?  2) Would you recommend circumcision for ADULT men? OR is the preference minor enough that it won’t matter in practice?

That did create a lot of controversy, didn’t it?  But I’m no stranger to controversy, so here goes:  I think most women prefer the way a circumcised penis looks; it seems clean and neat, kind of like a shaved face or (to many women including me) a bald head.  There’s also the hygiene issue; it’s rare to find an uncircumcised man who keeps it up to female standards of cleanliness.  Women are really obsessive about keeping all of our folds, nooks and crannies scrupulously clean, so it’s pretty off-putting when a guy can’t even keep one little easily-accessible spot clean and dry.  Even when men do keep it clean, it’s still kind of soft and moist in there (I don’t know if that’s sweat or pre-come or what, but most women find it pretty icky).  One very telling aspect of surveys is that women who claim to prefer uncircumcised penises also usually report disliking oral sex; there’s a peculiar taste and unpleasant sensation involved in blowing a “natural” cock, though I discovered it could mostly be alleviated by pulling the skin back, thoroughly cleaning the area with a warm, damp washcloth and then keeping the skin retracted while I worked.  But if his skin wasn’t fully retractable, or he complained about my pulling it back, I just put a condom on before blowing him.  For professional girls, disease is a big issue; on circumcised men any symptoms are generally clear and obvious, but a foreskin presents a worrisome hiding place for possible nastiness, so there’s a practical concern there as well as an aesthetic one.  And then some men have problem foreskins, though that’s fairly rare.

I don’t personally know any men who were circumcised as adults, though I did meet a few professionally and all of those who mentioned it were happy with the decision.  IMHO it’s an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation; if an uncircumcised man has a good sex life and no foreskin problems, why spend the money and go through the discomfort?  But if he has foreskin issues, or frequent bad reactions from chicks, or plans to see hookers very often, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

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People always have been and they always will be stupid victims of deceit and self-deception in politics.  –  Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

On September 30th I saw a Gawker article whose headline announced “Top Tea Partier Parties With Hookers”, then I yawned, clicked onto another item and promptly forgot about the non-news story for a couple of days until some other source reminded me of it.  Apparently, there are people in this country who have memories so short they can’t remember the last story of a politician caught looking for or hiring a whore, or the one before that, or the one before that, or the many dozens before that (or this one which broke Friday).  I know that Gawker is the online equivalent of a tabloid, but “politician hires prostitute” is the political equivalent of “dog bites man”, a commonplace event which really isn’t the least bit newsworthy.

But since there may be a few of you out there who still believe in the Tooth Fairy, I reckon I need to say this declaratively:  most male politicians hire prostitutes from time to time.  And this really shouldn’t be surprising because 69% of all Western men have directly paid for sex at least once in their lives, 20% do it occasionally and 6% regularly.  I say “directly paid” because as I’ve pointed out many times before, nearly all heterosexual men have paid for it indirectly…and I’m sure a good percentage of them are honest enough to recognize that.  Furthermore, roughly 1% of Western women have worked as prostitutes at some point in their lives, and if Sweden is representative perhaps ten times that number have accepted money for sex at least once (which, incidentally, is similar to historical percentages of the female population working as whores).  Yet the widespread myth that “only desperate men pay for sex” and its sister, “only desperate, damaged women accept money for sex,” persist despite the fact that at least seven out of ten men and one out of ten women repeating or hearing the statements know for a fact from personal experience that they aren’t true …and many, many more know secondhand.

Prostitution is the elephant in the American parlor; though most men and a sizeable fraction of women see it standing there, they refuse to talk honestly about it lest they upset their half-blind old Auntie who either can’t see it or has mistaken it for a large and rather oddly-shaped sideboard or ottoman.  And so they allow her to prattle on about the weather and the price of tea and how the immigrants are ruining this country, listening quietly as she makes wholly absurd statements about that piece of furniture she doesn’t recognize as an elephant and agreeing with her even though they can clearly see that she’s spouting utter nonsense.  Why do they do this?  I suspect it’s the result of cognitive dissonance caused by the conflict of what they know personally and intellectually to be true and that which they have been taught to believe.  For example, 46% of Americans continue to support the criminalization of marijuana even though most of them have used it themselves; many insist that teen sexuality can be curbed by keeping them in ignorance despite the fact that their own ignorance never stopped them when they were teens; and most support Draconian and disproportionate sentences for all crimes despite the fact that everyone breaks some laws on occasion.

A politician hires whores more often than other men do for the same reason a dog licks his genitals:  because he can.  The average politician has a lot more money and a vastly greater sense of his own entitlement than the average non-politician, but a lot more to lose should he be discovered with a mistress; a professional is therefore the obvious choice.  Yes, some of them (like Anthony Weiner or Bill Clinton) are foolish enough to obtain their extracurricular nookie from amateurs…who then, predictably, talk and get them in trouble.  But most of them have more sense, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the normal frequency categories were shifted up one step for politicians; i.e., 20% hiring hookers frequently, 69% occasionally and virtually all of them at least once in their lives.  This is, of course, merely an educated guess, but ask yourself:  Why is it that the client lists of state-destroyed escort services like Miami Companions or Pamela Martin and Associates are literally never revealed?

This makes the public behavior of politicians toward prostitutes to be all the more despicable.  Most of the legislators who vomit bile against us, most of the attorneys general who try to shut down our advertising venues, most of the judges who sentence us and most of the police chiefs who hunt us like animals are all customers; as I pointed out in “The Biggest Whores”, they hate us precisely because they need us:  “Most people are willing to crawl to the politician, licking his boots in order to gain a few scraps from his table, but the whore merely laughs at him and reverses the relationship while providing living proof of the inability of his profession to eradicate or control ours.”  And this is why it’s so rare that an escort service gets busted; politicians…

…don’t want to cut off easy access to easy women by persecuting the services.  So they allow the cops to harass streetwalkers and play sadistic little tricks on escorts and call girls, knowing full well that even if a few high-quality girls are scared out of the profession by police shenanigans there will still be plenty of others available…These sleazy sons of bitches don’t care how many individual girls get hurt; most of them prefer endless variety anyhow and consider individual escorts to be a disposable commodity.

Expressed more graphically, they don’t mind poaching as long as the whole herd isn’t wiped out.

Of course, politicians are still human (albeit the worst and least-evolved specimens of humanity), so they can get caught up in hysteria just like other people can.  Undoubtedly, there are many politicians who genuinely believe in the “child sex trafficking” hysteria, confusing the “elephant in the parlor” of prostitution with the “heffalump in the parlor” of pedophilia (as discussed in my column of one year ago today) and obsessing over lurid fantasies of 300,000 barely-pubescent sex slaves.  But even most of those politicians still have their whores, not only because they can rationalize their own escorts as among the “rare” non-coerced sex workers, but also because of the time-honored credo of the overlord, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

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Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.  –  H.L. Mencken

In my column of September 18th I told y’all about Ralph, who “was one of the most singularly unattractive people it’s ever been my misfortune to meet; he had odd, asymmetrical features, a serious case of acne, greasy hair, terrible posture, a high, shrill voice, pungent body odor and irritating mannerisms.  As if that weren’t enough, he wore ill-fitting and unfashionable clothes and was wont to show off his high mathematical intelligence.”  He was a virgin and asked me for advice on how to get girls to like him, but wouldn’t accept anything I had to say!  Several readers expressed an interest in knowing the rest of Ralph’s story, and I promised to tell it sometime this month; since one year ago today I published my column about Linda and her many idiosyncrasies, I figured it was as good a day as any to introduce you to several more eccentric New Orleans characters.  I promise that, with the exception of the obligatory name changes and a few details edited so as to simplify what would otherwise be an incredibly lengthy and complicated story, what follows is the absolute and unvarnished truth; one simply can’t make stuff like this up!

As I reported previously, all my friends got to know Ralph, and he especially grew to admire my cousin Jeff, of whom I’ve written many times.  It probably won’t surprise you to hear that after rejecting my counsel, Ralph decided to ask Jeff…who promptly suggested he ask me instead.  Ralph explained that he had asked me, and when Jeff asked what I had told him and received the answer, he told Ralph that it all sounded like good advice to him.  Jeff didn’t tell me how Ralph reacted to that, but one can imagine.  Still, it seems to have sunk in a little; his hair soon became noticeably less greasy and more neatly groomed, and he must’ve found an anti-perspirant which better agreed with his body chemistry.  But other than that, he was still the same nigh-hopeless case and his complaints about his virginity grew ever-bolder until everyone in our circle was sick of hearing it.  Then one day, Jeff and I had a conversation which went something like this:

“What are we going to do about Ralph?” he asked.

We?” I replied.  “Please don’t tell me you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking!”

“Well, he wouldn’t be the first mercy fuck you’ve given.”

“Yes, but…you don’t understand.  It won’t stop with just sex; he’ll get attached, and I’ll never be able to get rid of him.  There’s no such thing as ‘no strings’ with needy guys like that.”

He realized I was right, but a couple of days later I mentioned the conversation to Philippa and to my surprise, she volunteered to break him in.  I asked if she was sure, and reminded her of his clinginess, but she pointed out that her being ten years older than him, a divorced mother and a grad student who lived out in Kenner would make him less likely to attach to her than to me.  The theory was good, but neither of us had allowed for Ralph’s self-defeating obstinacy; rather than gratefully accepting her kindness, he insisted on trying to negotiate MSOG and multiple hours!  This of course infuriated Philippa and she withdrew the offer.  Next, one of Jeff’s friends set Ralph up with a “sure thing” from the friend’s home town in Mississippi; he did go out with the girl, but (for some reason which nobody could adequately explain to me) that didn’t work out, either.  Then one of my high-school girlfriends met him and decided to turn him into a “project”…also to no avail, though I think that was more her fault than his because she was notoriously flaky.

By this point, I had left the dorm for an apartment of my own and turned my very first trick; it was the spring of 1985 and one lovely Friday afternoon I was over at Jeff’s (there were no classes at UNO after noon on Fridays) when there was a knock at the door.  I couldn’t believe what I saw when I opened it; there was Ralph, soaking wet and reeking of beer, with a giggling blonde hanging on his arm.  He asked Jeff if he could take a shower and borrow a change of clothes, explaining that the girl (whom I‘ll call Lily) had spilled beer on him at an engineering department keg party (Jeff lived only half a block off campus, but Ralph lived miles away with his parents).  Before too long he was clean and they departed, and I said to Jeff, “You’re not going to believe this, but that girl is sweet on Ralph.”

“She told you that?”

“She didn’t need to.  Wasn’t it obvious?”

He had to admit she seemed remarkably affectionate toward Ralph, but he could scarcely credit  his impression because this girl was seriously hot.  I am not exaggerating; she had lovely legs, flawless white skin, a tiny waist, a beautifully-shaped bottom and enormous natural mammae.  Her face wasn’t gorgeous but it was pretty enough considering everything else, and she certainly seemed fun-loving if a trifle indiscreet.  I was certain she could’ve had any man in the science or engineering departments she had wanted…but for some reason she wanted Ralph.

Soon they were doing everything together, and though I quickly discerned that she was using him to get away from an abusive boyfriend, that hardly seemed to matter because she was giving him sex, and quite a lot of it as I understand.  She made no secret of being a masochistic submissive, and that made sense in light of my impression that she had chosen Ralph not in spite of his repellent characteristics but rather because of them (though his clothing and complexion dramatically improved under her influence).  It could’ve been a match made in heaven, except for one thing:  as time rolled by, it became increasingly obvious that Lily was a psycho.  Her friendly, even giddy façade soon peeled away to reveal a narcissistic, obsessive, jealous, amoral, thoroughly dishonest and possibly delusional bitch.  She was also incredibly manipulative; I was not yet familiar with the term “topping from the bottom” but she sure taught me what it meant as she played Ralph like a violin.  Within months she had managed to get him thrown out of his parents’ house, and because Jeff had a spare bedroom he temporarily took them in until they could find a place of their own.

By this point I found Lily repulsive; her horrible personality had destroyed any attraction I had felt to her, and her face was now always so twisted with anger and malice toward me (presumably because I was another beautiful girl Ralph liked) that I almost forgot I had ever seen her as pretty.  But one afternoon during their brief stay at Jeff’s I learned a lesson I have never forgotten about the effect of personality on beauty.  I had come over on some errand, and found her asleep on the living room couch; to my amazement, she had the face of an angel.  In slumber, she was untroubled by whatever demons drove her while she was awake, and her face relaxed into its natural and lovely contours.  But when she was awake that same face was twisted by her poisonous emotions into an ugly mask; the transformation was as profound as something one might see in a horror movie.  To this day I remember that moment every time some feminist whines that it’s better to be valued for intelligence than beauty.

There’s not much left to tell; Lily led Ralph from bad to worse.  He was expelled from UNO for stealing expensive lab equipment (to pay Lily’s bills), and she drove a wedge between him and his friends and family; the two of them even spread nasty rumors about people who had never offered them anything but kindness.  A couple of years later I heard through the grapevine that they were still together and had good jobs, and then sometime in the early ‘90s Frank and Olivia (Frank had met Ralph before) ran into them at a Halloween party thrown by a certain famous New Orleans horror writer; Frank said that though they didn’t mention me, they were still badmouthing Jeff many years after having last seen him.  This didn’t really shock me because it was obvious from early on that Ralph was starting to take on Lily’s personality characteristics; as I explained their story to Jack (whom I hadn’t met until about a year after Ralph’s expulsion), I remembered something that Jeff used to say about him:  “Ralph is a minor character in his own life.”

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One year ago today I published a short history of prostitution in Japan, in which I mentioned that there were many different types of brothels, including bathhouses with sexual services; these are called “soaplands” and they are extremely popular.  Well, as it turns out my husband was recently in Japan on business and his host invited him and another gentleman from his company to go along with him to a soapland; he told me about it when he returned and we both felt my readers might be interested in a first-person account of what goes on there.  So I’m turning the rest of this column over to him (except for a few concluding remarks from me at the end); if you have any questions just ask them in the comments, and I’ll try to get him to answer them as soon as possible (though it may be next weekend before he manages it). 

The soapland we visited was in a largely-residential urban neighborhood where there were several such places, but some are not open to gaijin so we drove around a little until the doorman of one of them flagged us down and showed us a parking place.  We exchanged our shoes for slippers at the door, then he took us into an anteroom.  The manager greeted us and told us the price (10,400 yen, about $135 US), then asked each of us what sort of girl we would like and took us one at a time beyond a partition to show the girl he thought would best suit that man’s preference; it was much more discreet than the lineups at Nevada brothels.  I didn’t care for the first one he showed me, but the second one looked like a Japanese version of Maggie dressed in a slinky gown and high heels, so I was quite happy with her.

She took my hand and escorted me to the third floor; her English was good enough (in combination with sign language) that she could communicate sufficiently for the situation.  The room to which she brought me had a normally-floored section where we came in, then the rest of it was like a very large, sunken shower floor with brown tiles.  To my right there was a shelving unit with a small dorm-type refrigerator and to my left a massage table; the sunken section had a large Roman-style tub filled to the brim with water.  She had me get undressed and put my clothes in baskets she gave me, then she undressed as well and I waited while she got her things ready for the session.  After a couple of minutes she called me to come down and had me sit on a stool whose seat was actually two pads with a large gap between so as to expose the whole crotch area.

She turned on the water in the tub, and it immediately started overflowing onto the tile floor.  Next, she used a flexible shower fitting to wash my crotch, then scrubbed me completely from head to toe with a scrubby and a strong but pleasant-smelling soap.  After washing herself in the same way, she told me to get in the tub; the water was the perfect temperature.  She got in the tub with me, sitting between my legs facing me, and rubbed a soft sponge without soap all over my skin; she then started masturbating me underwater, and after I adjusted my position so she wouldn’t have to duck her head under the water she used her mouth for a few minutes as well.  That was just a preliminary, though; she got out of the tub, moved the stool aside and brought out an air mattress with a lip running around the edge; it was like a combination air mattress and kiddie pool.  She then brought out a large plastic bowl and filled it with what Maggie tells me is called “nuru gel”, a super-slick lubricant that doesn’t dry up.

She called me out of the tub, put a folded towel as a pillow on the air mattress, had me lie down and smeared the gel all over both of us; she then started sliding around on me, rubbing every part of my front with her entire body.  It’s hard to describe; it was as though she was using my body for a stripper pole, and slid along my legs and arms like a train on a monorail.  Sometimes she went fast, sometimes slow, but it was all good and she was obviously very practiced.  After about 20 minutes of this she brought me back to the stool and completely washed us both with the strong soap again, then dried me thoroughly and led me to the massage table.  She gave me a gentle and sensual massage, then walked on my back while supporting part of her weight on a bar hanging from the ceiling; she controlled the pressure by supporting her weight with her arms, varying from feather-light to the whole weight of her body.  I was very impressed with both her dexterity and her physical fitness.  After about 15 minutes of this she told me to flip over, performed oral sex for a little while, then put a condom on me and got into cowgirl position.  I can’t ever finish in that position, so after a short time I flipped her over and got on top.  Once I was done she removed the condom, washed us both one last time, then dried me and offered me iced green tea from the fridge before I got dressed.  Altogether, it was about 90 minutes total.  When I exited the building my shoes were at the front door, so anyone walking by could see how many guests were in the establishment.

My husband dictated the above narrative to me and I put it into complete sentences, then turned it over to him for additions and corrections; I’m not sure I really believe that the massage girl looked like a Japanese version of me, but it’s sweet of him to say that so I won’t question it.  While he was trying to explain to me what everything looked like, he went digging around on the internet and found the second picture, showing the air mattress and tub (it’s actually a still he extracted from a Japanese video).  He found a picture of the stool in the same video, but it was difficult to see clearly so I searched and was able to locate the first picture above.  It turns out there’s a specific name for the thing, sukebe isu, literally “pervert chair”.  Anyhow, writing this column led us into a discussion of all the kinds of prostitution he’s sampled around the world, and it was actually more than I had previously thought!  So perhaps one day I may be able to convince him to do another column on brothels in Tijuana, Australia or Germany, or perhaps the Amsterdam window-girl I encouraged him to see a few years ago.

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Of the three official objects of our prison system: vengeance, deterrence, and reformation of the criminal, only one is achieved; and that is the one which is nakedly abominable.  – George Bernard Shaw

Some euphemisms are just so absurd it’s a wonder they aren’t the subject of constant public ridicule; one of these is “Department of Corrections”, a common American phrase meaning “Prison Department”.  It also has a number of derivatives like “correctional institution” (prison) and “correctional officer” (jailer).  But surely, no sane person believes that prisoners are being “corrected” or rehabilitated in any way; in fact, the evidence is the opposite, that locking criminals up for long periods of time merely makes them worse, and imprisoning those who break minor laws destroys their lives and/or turns them into career criminals.  The reasons for this should be obvious; prisons are little more than schools for crime, where those who are not thoroughly violent when they get in are forced to become more violent to survive.  Furthermore, excessive sentences remove prisoners from society for so long they forget how to behave among normal people and internalize the prison mode of behavior so that it’s difficult to “unlearn” when they get out, especially since criminal background checks, offender registries and other post-incarceration punishments often prevent former prisoners from ever returning to normal society.  These measures create a permanent criminal underclass who can never make a good living or otherwise reintegrate, so their incentives to return to crime (or enter it for the first time if their initial incarceration was for a consensual “offense”) are very strong indeed.  Women who cannot get “regular” jobs can always fall back on prostitution or marriage, but for male ex-convicts there aren’t many options for a worthwhile income other than drug dealing.

None of this makes any difference to lawheads, who defend their punitive mindset with tautologies, a priori statements and asinine slogans derived from TV cop show theme songs.  They take sadistic pleasure in seeing others suffer even if that suffering undermines rehabilitation, endangers society at large and costs the state tremendous amounts of money.  The prevalence of such warped mentalities in the United States can be demonstrated by the fact that we have only 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners and that since 1980 the incarceration rate has grown wildly out of proportion to the crime rate, largely thanks to mandatory sentencing laws, “three strikes” laws and the War on Drugs.  Nor are these perverts satisfied with caging human beings; oh, no!  They constantly agitate for longer sentences and harsher treatment of prisoners, both during their imprisonment and after their release.  And when badge-licking sadism gets into bed with political correctness and neofeminist “social construction” mythology, the result is just plain revolting:

A group of prisoners has begun a letter-writing campaign to protest what they see as an unfair ban on pornography inside [Connecticut’s] correctional institutions.  The Department of Correction announced in July that it would be banning all material that contains “pictorial depictions of sexual activity or nudity” from the prisons beginning next summer.  The state says the ban is intended to improve the work environment for prison staffers, especially female staffers, who might be inadvertently exposed to pornography.  “While it is not supposed to be displayed, it is still visible to staff, whether it be on the inside of a foot locker or underneath their bunks, so they are still exposed to it,” said Correction Department spokesman Brian Garnett.  “And secondarily, is the fact that this is contrary to our rehabilitative efforts, particularly when it comes to sex offenders.”

OK, let’s see if we can follow the “logic” here; they’re applying “hostile work environment” rhetoric derived from “sexual harassment” law to prisons?  The mind boggles; one would think any sane being with the most rudimentary knowledge of human sexual behavior would recognize that for a woman, the inside of a men’s prison would be practically the archetype of a “hostile work environment”.  And if a woman is able to see under a male prisoner’s bunk or into his foot locker, porn is the least thing she has to worry about being “exposed” to.  And how, pray tell, is access to material which the great majority of adult males view regularly somehow “contrary to rehabilitative efforts”?  Looking at porn is one of the few normal male things prisoners can do, and contrary to anti-porn claims it seems to reduce the rate of sex offense rather than increasing it.

…Bill Dunlop, a law professor at Quinnipiac University, said there is a constitutional argument to be made.  But, he said the courts have generally sided with prison officials, as long as they can prove the ban has a legitimate goal other than to simply suppress material that some people might find objectionable — such as maintaining safety in the prisons, or keeping the material out of the hands of sex offenders.  “The courts don’t require the prison officials to look for other ways of achieving those goals without infringing on First Amendment rights, to the extent that they would for government outside the prison,” he said.  “Based on the press release and the notice to the prisoners, it looks as though it’s in the general area of regulations that have been upheld in the past.”  But the state’s total ban on sexually explicit material appears to go beyond bans that the Supreme Court has upheld in the past, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut…is not representing any of the inmates and doesn’t advocate for pornography in prisons, but is concerned that the ban could be enforced in an arbitrary and overly broad manner.  “Similar regulations have been used to censor an image of the Sistine Chapel, newspapers and magazines with lingerie ads and the novel Ulysses,” Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said in a statement.

…The ban has the support of the union that represents prison guards.  Lisamarie Fontano, president of Local 387 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said she has been pushing for such a ban for several years, and has received complaints from female employees who have been sexually harassed by inmates using pornography.  “It’s a betterment to all to have it gone,” she said.  “Some inmates don’t want it, because their own sexual and mental issues were being forced onto them, even though it shouldn’t be there in the first place.”  Prisoners also use pornography as currency in prison, trading the pictures for other things of value, she said…

Given that prison guard unions, like all public employee unions, wield power far out of proportion to their numbers (the California prison guards’ union is thought to be the most powerful union in the United States), I have no doubt that the ban will be supported by the courts.  I don’t believe for one second that Fontano or any other female freaking prison guard is so lost in neofeminist La-la Land that she honestly believes that male sexual desire derives from looking at porn; she just wants to create her own sadistic mental porn by depriving male prisoners of one more simple human pleasure.

One Year Ago Today

Yesterday” is a cynical rumination on what it will take to get the mainstream media to stop acting as prohibitionist propaganda organs, and to really get the cause of sex worker rights moving, using lessons learned from gay rights activism.

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Liberty has never come from the government.  Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government.  The history of government is a history of resistance.  The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it.  –  Woodrow Wilson

Time and again I have pointed out that the popular American belief that the Democratic Party is “liberal” (in the conventional, though incorrect sense) and the Republican Party “conservative” (ditto, ditto) is not only wrong, but dangerous; naïve people support the candidate of their party of choice presuming that he will act in a way more in keeping with their views and priorities than the candidate of the other party, but this is simply not true.  Time and again politicians do whatever is expedient and pleases their masters (the big-money interests who bankroll their campaigns) rather than what the people who elected them expect them to do, and often Republicans act in ways which place them to the “left” of Democrats, and vice-versa.  Case in point our current president; the conventional wisdom says that Democrats are supposed to care more about civil liberties, but as Jonathan Turley of George Washington University points out in a September 29th article from the Los Angeles Times, that certainly isn’t the case with Obama:

…Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters.  One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama.  While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.  Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections.  Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama.  After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11.  Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights.  Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities.  Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them.  The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly.  Soon after his election…Obama…[announced] that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture.  Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.  Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised.  He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights.  He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists.  His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.  But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself.  It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush.  Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected…

It’s almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome…Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama’s position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him.  Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism…[but that] cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama’s policies…It looks more like a cult of personality…Ironically, had Obama been defeated in 2008, it is likely that an alliance for civil liberties might have coalesced and effectively fought the government’s burgeoning police powers.  A Gallup poll released this week shows 49% of Americans, a record since the poll began asking this question in 2003, believe that “the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals’ rights and freedoms.”  Yet the Obama administration long ago made a cynical calculation that it already had such voters in the bag and tacked to the right on this issue to show Obama was not “soft” on terror.  He assumed that, yet again, civil libertarians might grumble and gripe but, come election day, they would not dare stay home.  This calculation may be wrong.  Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line…it will be virtually impossible [for civil libertarians] to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles…by blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes…

In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties.  Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term.  He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

Since Turley does not specifically mention them, I feel it necessary to add that the present administration’s record on other civil rights issues of interest to myself and my readers is as deplorable as its record on torture, surveillance and the police state.  Candidate Obama pledged “to seek a more humane and effective drug policy”; President Obama has expanded the drug war, authorized DEA raids against medical marijuana suppliers and dispensaries in states where they are legal, suspended the first, second and fourth amendments in order to persecute them still further, and ignored scientific findings to pronounce that marijuana has no valid medical use.  Candidate Obama spoke of immigration reform; President Obama has deported over one million immigrants, far more than any other US president in history.  He went longer without issuing a pardon than any president other than the first two and last two, and has to date pardoned only 17 people in all (mostly for minor crimes).  He has repeatedly waffled on gay rights issues, and ignored the recommendations of a group of respected scholars that he reject the policies of the Bush administration that equate all prostitution with sex trafficking, instead choosing to continue the “anti-prostitution pledge” that ties federal funds to an oath that recipients will demonize and support criminalization of sex workers.  And he has supported his vice president’s campaign to strip young men accused of sexual impropriety of their civil rights, even when their supposed “victims” deny they did anything wrong.

No matter which party wins the presidency, this trend is likely to continue; Obama has proven himself a foe of civil rights, nearly every candidate in the Republican field considers his opposition to civil rights to be a selling point, and the last time a third-party candidate won the office was in 1860 (and that party went on to become one of the two major ones).  But there is hope; as Turley points out, 49% of Americans now consider the government “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens”.  At the current rate of increase that should reach 60% in less than four years, and then maybe, just maybe, enough people will become angry enough to launch a new civil rights movement…and it’s about damned time.

One Year Ago Today

Anatomy of a Boondoggle” dissects a news story about prostitution stings in suburban Pittsburgh, revealing the truth behind “the sort of prohibitionist propaganda which the police love to issue and which gullible reporters swallow whole because they can’t be bothered to investigate the facts or interview anyone with an opposing view (and wouldn’t be allowed to print it if they did).”

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Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are fallin’
To the sound of the breezes that blow
An’ I’m trying to please to the callin’
Of your heart strings that play soft and low
And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.
  –  Van Morrison, “Moondance

The modern disconnect with the natural world which has given rise to neofeminism, “social construction of gender”, the militant “animal rights” movement and many other bizarre beliefs and practices is completely alien to me.  When one lives in the country surrounded by plants and animals it is impossible to reduce the calendar to an official fiction, to pretend that shifting clocks changes the time, to imagine that sex-based characteristics and sexual behaviors are instilled by socialization rather than arising naturally as they do in every other animal, or to believe that things like predatory male sexuality, prostitution, sexual dominance and submission and the physical or behavioral characteristics to which people are attracted derive from “patriarchy” rather than evolution and neurochemistry, and can be eliminated by laws and giving little boys dolls to play with (as discussed in my column of one year ago today).  And once one spends even a short time each day watching dogs, cats, livestock and wildlife it is no longer possible to comfort oneself with the ridiculous idea that humans are a kind of angelic being totally and completely separate from all other forms of biological life, or to adhere to the naïve notion that it is either possible or desirable to completely eliminate from the human world what the “enlightenment police” glibly refer to as “cruelty” (a concept which bears about as much resemblance to actual cruelty as a teddy bear has to a grizzly).

It’s not as easy for the inhabitants of New Orleans to isolate themselves from Nature as it is for the inhabitants of most large cities; it is probably the greenest of all American cities, and the total percentage of ground covered with concrete there is very low indeed.  The living Earth beneath the city does not accept her bondage lightly, and constantly expresses her displeasure by undermining houses, creating holes in the roadways, and introducing water into every place which is not hermetically sealed.  Nor do the other life-forms who share the environment respect man-made borders; insects, reptiles and small mammals brazenly invade human dwellings on a scale unheard-of elsewhere, and even the plants slowly creep in while nobody is watching and destroy whatever gets in their way.  And I haven’t even mentioned the hurricanes.

Despite all this some still try, shutting themselves up in climate-controlled offices all day and climate-controlled houses all night, and moving between the two as quickly as possible.  I honestly think they’re in the minority, though, or at least they used to be, which is probably part of the reason neither neofeminism nor any other belief system which relies on rejection of Nature has ever caught on there (or anywhere else in the Deep South).  And I never even tried to join their number, nor do I think I could have had I wanted to.  The tides which ebb and flow in every woman were always particularly strong in me, and that wasn’t the only natural factor which was; the combination of my sinus problems and the bursitis in a cracked rib (incurred in an auto accident when I was in my late teens) allowed me to predict the weather with a high degree of accuracy for most of my twenties, and as I wrote in my column for last Halloween my spirits have always invariably lifted as autumn arrives and the leaves begin to turn.

October usually enjoys a particular sort of cool weather, a crisp breeziness quite unlike that one might experience on an early spring day or a comparatively warm winter one; this is October Weather, my name for that special atmospheric condition I associate with turning leaves and the imminent arrival of my birthday.  In New Orleans I was often cheated of it; October Weather might not come ‘til November and then immediately depart, or some years it might not appear at all.  In fact, one of the reasons I chose to move to the upper South from my native country was the promise of more distinct seasons, including a long, colorful autumn.  The odd, late, chaotic autumns we’ve had the past few years due to the changing climate have caused me considerable annoyance, but they’re still more dependable than what I got in New Orleans so I reckon I can’t complain.  But when that weather did arrive I was filled with a sort of wild, witchy joy; I wanted to stay out late, to suck the fragrant air into my lungs and fly through the night under the harvest moon with my hair streaming behind me.  As a young teen I often sneaked out in the middle of the night to enjoy such weather, and after I arrived at UNO I would wander about the campus on such evenings or ride my bicycle to midnight movies at the Robert E. Lee Theater a few miles away.  More than once I invited my cousin Jeff or whatever boy I was dating to moonlight picnics on such evenings; since UNO was largely a “commuter college” with a low resident population the campus was virtually deserted at night, so we had our pick of sites.

Jeff was a big fan of Van Morrison’s, and there were three of his songs which Jeff particularly associated with me:  “Brown-Eyed Girl”, “Tupelo Honey” and the one which forms my epigram; one of the things which let me know that my husband might be “the one” was that he associated those same songs with me.  And though as I age my reaction to October Weather isn’t nearly as strong as it was in my teens and twenties, on clear, cool October nights I still feel the urge to go out and dance in the dry leaves under the moon.

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