Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2011

The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business.  –  Jimmy Swaggart

Twenty years ago today, the California Highway Patrol pulled over a white Jaguar in the town of Indio for driving on the wrong side of the road.  The driver explained that he had pulled over to give a ride to a young woman who was standing on that side, and was in the process of pulling back over when he was stopped.  And the cops might’ve accepted that, or given him a ticket and gone on their way, except for two things:  the woman was a known prostitute named Rosemary Garcia, and the driver was well-known televangelist Jimmy Swaggart.  Nor was this Swaggart’s first time caught with his hand in the crumpet tin; four years earlier it was another streetwalker in a seedy motel on Airline Highway in Metairie, Louisiana.  That earlier scandal had almost ended his career, and the second one sharply curtailed his comeback.  But let’s not put the car before the whores, as it were; the story makes more sense told chronologically.

Jimmy Swaggart was born in Ferriday, Louisiana on March 15, 1935, just six months before his cousin, rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis  and a year before another cousin, country star Mickey Gilley.  He married Frances Anderson when he was only 17 years old and was a father at 19, despite the fact that he had neither residence nor income.  The Swaggarts lived an itinerant existence as Jimmy preached in small rural Louisiana churches, bringing in roughly $30 a week and staying wherever people would let them.  But showmanship ran in the family, and by 1957 Swaggart was popular at revival meetings all over the South.  He entered Bible college, began recording Gospel music albums in 1960 and was ordained by the Assemblies of God after graduating in 1961.  He soon had his own radio show, and by 1969 it was popular throughout the Bible Belt.  That was the year he founded his Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, bought an AM radio station and started a weekly 30-minute television broadcast which was later syndicated.  His television ministry quickly expanded; in 1978 the show grew to an hour, and in 1980 went from weekly to daily.  By the mid-1980s his broadcast appeared on more than 250 television stations across the U.S. and pulled in about $150 million dollars a year.

Cousin Jimmy had come a long way from sleeping in church basements and preaching from the backs of trucks, but instead of rejoicing in his good fortune and helping other struggling preachers as Christian morality demands, Swaggart instead grew jealous of his position and schemed to bring down rival Assemblies of God televangelist Marvin Gorman, whose television show was becoming increasingly popular.  In 1986 Swaggart discovered (possibly through the use of a private detective) that Gorman had a mistress, and exposed him to the AoG Presbytery with claims of “several affairs” (though Gorman only confessed to one).  Gorman was defrocked, his TV ministry collapsed and he was forced to file bankruptcy; as one might expect, he wanted revenge.  So, he hired a private detective named Scott Bailey and assigned his son Randy to assist him, and the two set out to discover whatever Swaggart might have to hide.  It didn’t take long; early in 1987 they discovered that he regularly employed the services of Debra Murphree, a $35 streetwalker who worked out of the Travel Inn on Airline Highway.  On a day when Bailey expected Swaggart to visit Murphree, Randy Gorman rented another room and secretly took pictures of her clients coming and going; when Swaggart arrived Randy snapped his picture entering the room, then let the air out of his tires and called his father (who lived only a few minutes away).  The elder Gorman confronted Swaggart when he emerged and promised he wouldn’t release the pictures if Swaggart would publicly apologize to Gorman, admit to the Assemblies of God that he had lied about the affairs and use his influence to have Gorman reinstated.

But for some reason, Swaggart never made good on his end of the deal, and in January of 1988 Gorman told Swaggart his time was up.  On February 15th Gorman contacted the AoG Executive Presbytery, the same officials who had defrocked him two years earlier, and exposed Swaggart’s transgression; they initially suspended him for three months, then travelled with him on his private plane to AoG headquarters in Springfield, Missouri to set the matter before the church’s national leadership.  One would think Swaggart would be contrite and penitent, but this was not the case; an evangelist who was on that flight later reported thatSwaggart was VERY contemptuous of them.  At one point…he stood up and wagged his finger in their faces and said…[words to the effect that] Swaggart spoke for God, and the AofG did not.”  The national leaders were so offended by Swaggart’s arrogance they increased the suspension to two years, and so it was that on February 21st, 1988 Swaggart made his now-famous “I have sinned” speech and temporarily stepped down from the pulpit.

Murphree was interviewed repeatedly by news media and admitted to the odd fact that though Swaggart had seen her many times, he had never had sex with her; instead he had paid her to pose while he masturbated.  This dovetailed with Swaggart’s admission to the AoG leaders that he “suffered from a lifelong addiction” to pornography, which certainly surprised no one who knew anything about reaction formation considering his vocal anti-porn stance.  In July she got an illustrated interview in Penthouse; Jack had a subscription (delivered to my flat so his mother wouldn’t know) and I remember several details of that feature.  One is that Murphree was, well, skanky-looking, which in conjunction with some of the things she reported he wanted her to do and talk about tells me he viewed their interaction as degrading to himself, and wanted it that way.  Another is that he was extremely cheap; though her normal price was $35 he wouldn’t pay her more than $20 because he didn’t want to actually touch her.  And as is typical of men in a state of deep sexual frustration, he had disgusting fantasies about things he probably would never actually do, such as asking if he could have sex with Murphree’s nine-year-old daughter.  Penthouse paid $210,000 for her story, of which the IRS stole three-quarters.

Meanwhile, Swaggart had returned to the pulpit in May, at the end of the original three-month suspension; the AoG leadership responded by defrocking him for disobeying their two-year ban, and Swaggart countered by making his Family Worship Center and TV ministry non-denominational.  The defiant move came at a heavy cost; he had already lost considerable following due to the scandal and was a national laughingstock (mocked by celebrities from Saturday Night Live to Ozzy Osbourne), and the break from AoG sent him into a downward spiral.  By the end of 1988 he had lost 80% of his viewership, and in September of 1991 a New Orleans jury found that Swaggart had defamed Gorman with false allegations of adultery, and ordered him to pay $10 million in damages.  Still, the fallen icon was determined and charismatic, and soon after that verdict he preached to a standing-room only crowd in San Diego.  But a week later he picked up Rosemary Garcia in Indio…and that’s where we came in.  She said he asked her to guide him to a hotel with in-room porn, and as she later told reporters “He’s the same guy who cries on TV for all these people to feel sorry for him…to give him all their money.  For what?  So he can come give it to us.  That’s pretty good.”  There was no tearful apology from the repeatedly disgraced  televangelist this time; instead, he stood before his congregation and issued the statement which forms today’s epigram.  His quick-thinking son Donnie immediately announced that his father would be temporarily stepping down as head of the ministry for “a time of healing and counseling.”

One might think that would be the end of the road for Swaggart, but as the adage tells us “you can fool some of the people all of the time.”  In 1995 he founded the SonLife radio network, which according to Swaggart’s website “is heard nationwide on over 78 stations and around the world via the internet.”  In 2009 he launched SonLife Broadcasting Network, “a Christian Television Network which airs nationally and internationally to a potential viewing audience of over 80 million.”  And though he’s not the force he once was, there’s no doubt that he’s still a multi-millionaire with millions of adoring fans.  As Larry Niven would say, there ain’t no justice.

One Year Ago Today

Hooker Humor” should be self-explanatory.  And beige.

Read Full Post »

The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true.  It is the chief occupation of mankind.  –  H.L. Mencken

When a person is so narcissistically absorbed in his own ideas or beliefs that he is totally oblivious to reality, we say that he “has his head up his own arse.”  But for some people, this expression is hardly strong enough; they pursue their own solipsistic interpretation of reality so aggressively and persistently as to actually undo whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish.  In my late teens I coined the expression “marching up his own arse” to describe such a person, and it was the first thing I thought of when I read these three news items.  The first one is from the September 17th Las Vegas Sun:

Christopher Baughman is a member of…the unit within vice that investigates crimes related to human trafficking and prostitution.  He’s seen more than his fair share of gritty crime scenes and broken lives, some of which he’s documented in his new book, “Off the Street”…[Baughman says] “these guys are psychopaths.  They have a whole lot to lose, and they are not stupid.  These aren’t guys chasing down women in an alley for $10.  We are talking about people making a ton of money…Early in [the] book, [I describe] a pimp pulling in a million dollars a year through only two women…and a million dollars can buy a very good defense attorney.  If our team doesn’t cross every single T, we could lose that case…We have to do whatever it takes…trafficking and pimping are bigger issues in Las Vegas than anywhere else…You can hide in plain sight here.  Where else can a 22-year-old drive down the street in a Maserati and nobody pays attention?  We’ve sort of opened the door for a lot of bad people to come here…[He adds]…When people are talking about prostitution and victims of trafficking, guys use a lot of…derogatory terms.  Officers do it, too…All that does is reinforce the lies the traffickers tell them, like that police don’t give a damn…

One would think that Las Vegas (where the evidence that legalization works better than criminalization is literally a few miles away, and where the independence of the vast majority of escorts should be obvious to anyone not hopelessly lost in the nether regions of his own alimentary canal) would be the last place in America where trafficking mythology and puerile “pimps and hos” masturbatory fantasies would find a receptive audience.  But that grossly underestimates the dogged persistence with which some people promenade into their own rectal cavities.  I literally laughed out loud at this pompous twit’s declaration that he knew of a “pimp” making a million dollars a year from two women; while it’s certainly possible for a busy and dedicated escort to make $500,000 in a year in Las Vegas, a woman who’s capable of that isn’t going to turn it all over to some man.  Sorry, Chris; you’ll have to do the sigmoid strut alone because no hooker with a particle of self-respect is going to follow you.

It’s understandable that Cheesehead cops might be a bit less cosmopolitan than their Sin City brethren, but the Kafkaesque notion that one can stop an already-illegal activity merely by requiring a license for it is so wholly ludicrous that only a dedicated colonic processionary could fail to see the absurdity of it.  This story comes to us from the September 18th LaCrosse Tribune:

…an ordinance being considered by city officials…[in LaCrosse, Wisconsin] would require escorts, dancers and some kinds of massage practitioners to obtain licenses for a fee.  Police contend the license could deter prostitution while generating revenue for a cash-strapped city.  “The city requires cab drivers and bartenders to obtain a license,” La Crosse Police Assistant Chief Rob Abraham said.  “It seems reasonable we should regulate this industry also”…other Wisconsin municipalities [already] require a license for anyone who accompanies someone for a fee…[or offers] private dances and massages.  Police want one thing to be clear:  The ordinance won’t legalize prostitution.  Anyone exchanging sex for money faces criminal charges.

Escorts and dancers advertising work in La Crosse…teeter on prostitution.  They offer “pleasure” and “full body pampering” with semi-nude photographs…“This type of activity sometimes tries to guise as prostitution,” Abraham said.  “We know through informants or tips these escorts aren’t doing legal escort activity.”  But proving a prostitution deal can be tricky.  Proving someone doesn’t have a license isn’t.  “As soon as they open the door, they’re in violation,” said Jim Adlam, a police captain in Brookfield, a southeastern Wisconsin city that enacted an escort-license ordinance in 1991…

Similar ordinances elsewhere require applicants to submit fingerprints and photographs and pass a criminal history background check.  No one has ever applied for the license, which requires a hefty $250 fee, since Brookfield passed the ordinance two decades ago, according to the city clerk’s office.  But police there each year cite about 10 unlicensed escorts, most nabbed during stings…“I tell them, ‘You’ve been given an unbelievable deal in life.  This is really prostitution,’” Brookfield Municipal Judge Jeffrey Warchol said…“We wish people would follow the ordinance,” Waukesha County Sheriff’s Lt. Neil Dussault said.  “But people choose to go around the system because they know deep down what they’re doing is wrong.”

I’m not sure whether these officials are technically marching up their own arses; it seems more like they’re all marching up each others’ arses in a colossal daisy chain of rump-tramping.  If they don’t require a license to go on dates, they’re right back where they started from because the cases are based on police testilying whether the charge is “prostitution” or “escorting without a license”.  But that’s the essence of advancing up one’s own rear; the profound confusion which results is evident in the quotes from the “authorities” in this story.  One says that strippers and escorts disguise their work as prostitution (the mind boggles), another tells whores that their work is “really prostitution” as though he believes they don’t know, and Solomon Lawhead at the end there pronounces that women don’t submit their fingerprints and real names so they can be harassed, persecuted and framed at will “because they know deep down what they’re doing is wrong.”  Obviously, the concepts of “common sense” and “self-preservation” don’t exist in his universe.  Hup, two, three, four…

I can’t tell whether the researcher in this September 20th story from The Local is traipsing up his own bum, but the prosecutor is certainly on an auto-anal expedition:

Prostitutes from Hungary are increasingly being sent to work in…Zurich, but they don’t see themselves as victims of trafficking, according to…Sascha Finger, a geographer…at the University of Bern…In most cases, the women were pushed onto the street by brothers, uncles, cousins or even husbands:  “The women therefore don’t see themselves as human trafficking victims”…Most of [them] are Roma, a nomadic ethnic group often existing on the fringes of Hungarian society.  “The women are sent to Switzerland by their families to earn hard cash to feed an extended family of up to 13 people, and often they have their own children,” he said…the women are also faced with serious problems in Switzerland.  They generally don’t speak German and are often at the mercy of punters who occasionally fail to pay…they…are…often afraid of the police, their customers, and the challenges posed by living in Switzerland.  “They feel illegal even though they are not doing anything illegal.“

Zurich prosecutor Silvia Steiner is also aware of the problems Hungarian prostitutes face in Switzerland.  “The dilemma for me is that the women deny they are victims of human trafficking“…Steiner has previously managed to secure convictions…in the few cases she has brought to court, but in general the women refuse to push for an indictment.  “Their fear of the perpetrators and their clans in Hungary is too great,“ she said.

So if a Swiss woman’s family pushes her to get an office job, is it “human trafficking”?  What about if she “perpetrates” travel to Germany to get that job?  What if a Hungarian woman is pushed by her family to work in a bank in Zurich?  Does a job only count as “trafficking” if it involves sex?  Does Ms. Steiner even consider the fact that among the Gypsies (the traditional name for the Roma) travelling is a way of life?  Maybe they “deny they are victims of human trafficking” because they aren’t, and maybe the reason they’re afraid of the police and “feel illegal even though they are not doing anything illegal“ is because lawheads like Steiner keep trying to force them to betray their families for the sake of some vague political concept.  But don’t expect her to recognize that; like the people who spout the amazingly stupid statements featured in my column of one year ago today, she’s far too busy marching up her own arse to pay any attention to reality.

Read Full Post »

The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.  –  Gore Vidal

Sex worker rights activists have been pointing out for years that the rescue industry has a vested interest in stoking the fires of “sex trafficking” hysteria so that millions in government money flows into their coffers; to this end, they inflate statistics, create bogus studies designed to siphon funds from other programs, use dysphemisms, distorted terminology, empty-headed celebrities and more bogus studies to convince the public that sex work is a social disease, and just plain lie about sex work and sex workers in order to keep the gravy train rolling.  Nor are NGOs the only beneficiaries of this lucrative witch-hunt; small countries who depend on American handouts are only too happy to throw whores and clients into prison in order to show their overlords that they’re “doing something about sex trafficking”.  But in this age of belt-tightening, the U.S. government is beginning to look a little more closely at those who reap huge profits “combating” a virtually-nonexistent “problem”, and discovering – Surprise, surprise, surprise! – that they aren’t actually accomplishing anything:

An Iowa senator is calling for action after audits revealed at least six recipients of grants to fight human trafficking made unauthorized expenditures and incurred questionable costs.  Six audits completed between 2007 and 2009 reported more than $2.72 million in unsupported, unallowable or questioned costs of the $8.24 million total the Department of Justice awarded to the six grant recipients.  “These select individual audits signal to me that there is a bigger problem,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley…during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.  “The inspector general audited seven trafficking grantees and found serious problems in all seven.”

During the hearing on the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which provides grants and resources for trafficking victims, advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors, Grassley questioned whether the Department of Justice is awarding money to the appropriate organizations.  “Holding grant programs accountable will help to ensure that services really go to those in need,” Grassley…said in a statement.  “Before we reauthorize another dollar, we need strong oversight language included in legislation – to ensure that failing grantees will not be rewarded with additional taxpayer dollars.”

One audit discovered that the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs in Chicago, which was awarded $2 million, did not have adequate documentation for $902,122 in salaries and $174,479 in fringe benefits.  Another inspector general audit in 2008 found that, although the Office of Justice Programs’ human trafficking grant programs have “built significant capacities to serve victims,” the programs have not “identified and served significant numbers of victims”…

…The Office for Victims of Crime, which awards grants to task forces and other grant recipients that provide direct services to victims in their communities, has developed a detailed checklist for applicants seeking money for human trafficking work…Applicants must list detailed information on the number of human trafficking victims they have previously served and disclose how long they have provided services to these victims…The office also reviews the budget and program strategy of each applicant…

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice seems to be treating these misappropriations as honest mistakes or instances of incompetence rather than recognizing them for what they are:  embezzlement perpetrated via deliberate fraud.  We can only hope the audits eventually uncover a number of cases too egregious to ignore, and that there is enough of an outcry to trigger criminal investigations and aggressive prosecutions.  All moral panics eventually end, and this one has gone on for a decade already – longer if one recognizes that many of its themes have continued virtually unchanged since they played major roles in the Satanic Panic and domestic violence/rape epidemic hysteria of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and that “child sex trafficking” hysteria is partially an outgrowth of the child sex abuse panic (now in its 29th year).  And when such panics end, they often do so in a flurry of recriminations and finger-pointing.

The signs are starting to appear, slowly but surely; online polls are overwhelmingly in favor of either legalization or decriminalization, and the comments on stories about prostitution busts range from criticism to derision to outright hostility against the police.  Articles such as this one from the September 23rd Guardian are becoming much more common:

According to the documentaries running on near-constant repeat on CNN and MSNBC, men all around America are just waiting to buy women for sex, fuelling what is referred to as a “multibillion dollar industry”…Attorneys general, mayors and sheriffs across the United States are using the same tabloid statistics and rationale to set public policy.  They claim that the way to end exploitation in the sex trade is to “end demand” for the sex trade – that is, end men’s desire for sex they can pay for.  The notion that men’s desire to buy actual people fuels the sex trade has gone so mainstream that when aspiring celebrity philanthropist Ashton Kutcher launched a public service campaign against prostitution this year, he called it “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls“.

The problem is, real people buy sex [not people] and real people sell sex…When politicians, social service providers and celebrity philanthropists insist that sex workers are selling ourselves, they engage in the same kind of dehumanisation that they claim johns do to us.  When they claim that men can buy us, they rob us of our power and our choices…Combined with the myth that all prostitution involves men buying women, the “end men’s demand” rhetoric in the media and anti-prostitution campaigns plays into some of the most damaging attitudes toward sex workers.  There’s nothing feminist or new in the current wave of anti-prostitution reformers, who claim…that all sex work is “sexual enslavement”.  Sex workers know that what creates demand for the sex trade is not men “enslaving” us for sex, but the…demands of childcare, loan officers, debt collectors, landlords and dependant family members – in short, the demands most working people struggle to meet…to focus only on ending men’s demand for sex is a cheap way out.  In this way, sex workers’ needs are reduced only to what happens during the sex transaction; it ignores the rest of our lives outside the sex trade.  By advancing this myth of male demand and sex workers being powerlessly enslaved in catering to it, the media and politicians fixate on the power of male desire more than sex workers ever do…When they base their campaigning not on the reality of the sex trade, but on their fantasies, it is sex workers who most suffer.

The comments to this article were almost entirely positive, making the few “trafficking robots” stand out like turds on a table.

But speaking of Ashton (as we have twice already in this column, so let’s go for three), if we’re lucky he may not have the money or the will to continue his anti-whore campaign for much longer:

…Sara Leal, the woman who reportedly slept with Ashton Kutcher…on…his sixth wedding anniversary [September 24th]…met with an attorney…[and] Star  magazine is reporting that Kutcher’s marriage to Demi is over…the couple has been living apart and will split a $290 million fortune.  Kutcher was [previously] caught cheating with 21-year-old Brittney Jones in 2010 and…[told] Leal…that he and his wife were “separated, but the public just didn’t know yet.”  Ashton was in San Diego Friday night partying with friends at Fluxx nightclub and had sex with Leal at the nearby Hard Rock Hotel, according to the website TheDirty.com [which reports that Leal wants $250,000 for her story]…Leal has not decided what – if any – action she is taking but wanted to meet with an attorney “to explore all of her options”…

What’s that you say, Ashton?  “Real men don’t buy girls”?  Well, you sure bought this one, honey, at about 1000x the going rate (which as it so happens is the title of my column from one year ago today).  If you had just hired an escort (oops, I mean “bought a girl”) instead of dealing with a halfway whore (who by your own ridiculous definition was “trafficked”, BTB) you wouldn’t be in this fix, but because you believed your own stupid propaganda you’re about to learn the hard way that free pussy is the most expensive kind.

Read Full Post »

Trial.  A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors.  –  Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

One year ago today I reported the story of Jack T. Camp, a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia who made a career of throwing the book at people for consensual crimes; he fell for a stripper whom the F.B.I. then bribed into betraying her client by promising to drop other consensual crime charges against her.  So she led him into a fake drug deal and the FBI arrested him and charged him with an assortment of drug and weapon charges for which any normal person would’ve faced decades in prison.  But since he is a member of the ruling class (albeit a disgraced one), what he actually got was far less time in jail than a Georgia woman who was accused of agreeing to have sex with someone for the “wrong” reasons (like, you know, to pay the bills and feed her kids) might have been sentenced to.  This story is from last March, but was only called to my attention a few weeks ago by Norma Jean Almodovar’s guest column:

After telling him he has “a scarlet letter chiseled on his forehead the rest of his life,” a federal judge sentenced disgraced ex-jurist Jack Camp to 30 days in prison for committing repeated crimes with a stripper.  “He has disgraced his office,” Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said…“He has denigrated the federal judiciary.  He has encouraged disrespect for the law.”

Camp, who was arrested [on October 1st, 2010] in an undercover drug sting, pleaded for leniency.  He asked to be allowed to remain in his home and community to repair his marriage and rebuild his name.  “When I look back at the circumstances which brought me here, it makes me sick to think I did them,” he said.  “They were illegal, wrong, foolish…The only thing I can say is that I’m so very sorry.”  In court filings, Camp’s lawyers told Hogan that depression and a bipolar disorder as well as brain damage sustained in a 2000 bicycle accident — all exacerbated with improper prescriptions — help explain the ex-judge’s erratic and reckless conduct last year.

…Camp’s son, an Atlanta lawyer, asked Hogan to sentence his father to probation…but Hogan…said he could not get around the fact that a high-ranking government official had committed such serious offenses.  He then read aloud the oath of office Camp took 22 years ago…[which] included Camp’s pledge, he noted, to follow the law.  “Instead, for whatever reasons, the demons he had made him go another way,” Hogan said…[adding] “There was no suggestion this conduct was ending.”  Hogan also ordered Camp to serve 400 hours of community service, pay a $1,000 fine and reimburse the government for the cost of its prosecution, which has yet to be determined.  Camp will get credit for the weekend he spent in jail after his arrest.

…In one ruling issued Friday, Hogan found that Camp had not committed a felony, as prosecutors believed he…had when they signed the plea agreement.  Instead, Camp committed three misdemeanors, exposing him to a sentence of up to 6 months in prison.  Prosecutors asked Hogan to sentence Camp to at least 15 days…Camp’s lawyers asked for probation and community service.  Camp said the past few months had been a nightmare for him and said it has been a struggle to go out in public because of his humiliation and shame.  “I had worked hard as a judge and earned a respected reputation,” he said.  “Now I’ll be known as the judge who disgraced himself at the end of his career.”

I’m sure most people who are arrested in elaborate and expensive stings and charged with federal drug offenses feel sick and sorry; I’ll bet lots of them suffer from depression and could even hire quacks to diagnose them with serious mental illnesses or “brain damage” (especially since the Drug Warriors claim that illegal drugs cause brain damage).  I’m positive that lots of them would just love to be allowed to remain in their homes to repair their marriages and rebuild their names, and I’m certain they’d be overjoyed if the felonies for which they had already agreed to a plea bargain magically diminished into misdemeanors.  And I daresay most of them would consider a $1000 fine plus court costs assessed after only five months of worry to be a bargain compared to the years-long, repeatedly-delayed, resource-draining, often-escalating nightmare of a typical federal prosecution.  But they’re not judges, so they are humiliated, bankrupted, forced to commit perjury and betray others and then thrown into prison for an average of six years.  But someone who “…disgraced his office…denigrated the federal judiciary…[and] encouraged disrespect for the law” gets a slap on the wrist, because, you know, he’s “suffered enough”.  Well, at least this gives us a new legal dodge; we’ll call it the “bicycle defense”.  Too bad it won’t work for anyone but a politician.

Read Full Post »

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.  –  Benjamin Franklin

In the classic 1947 science fiction novelette whose title this column shares, Jack Williamson predicted the perils of the nanny state by depicting a future world infiltrated by self-replicating robots who volunteer to do every dangerous job free of charge; only after the lazy humans have allowed the “humanoids” to take over all police and other “protective” functions do they discover that the machines have their own standards of “safety” and will not allow humans to do anything which carries even the slightest risk.

The problem, of course, is that nearly everything worth doing carries some danger, and ofttimes the greater the risk, the greater the reward.  When we allow others to absorb the peril we gradually lose the nerve to take exciting, profitable or even necessary chances for ourselves, and when we allow “authorities” using the excuse of “safety” to dictate what we can and cannot do we lose the greater part of what it means to be human and become nothing but domestic animals owned and controlled by the State.  Big Brother says that some activities are just too dangerous, so they are prohibited and those caught doing them are punished by having their goods stolen and their bodies violated or confined, but kept biologically alive in a condition the State defines as “safe”.  And if some people are killed in the process of establishing this worldwide nursery, well, you know how it is with omelettes.

The War on Drugs is the most widespread and monstrous realization of the campaign to “protect” adults from their own choices, but the War on Whores is nearly as bad.  Once we were branded as “degenerates”, but for the last century (especially the last two decades) there is a growing tendency to characterize laws which restrict the sexual freedom of adult women as attempts to “rescue” us from our own choices; trafficking fanatics, neofeminists and proponents of the “Swedish Model” paint us as imbeciles and emotional basket cases who suffer from “false consciousness” and are unable to make decisions for ourselves.  Self-proclaimed moral authorities even demand that porn actors be protected from their own informed decisions.  And in a world of smoking bans, seat belt laws, gun control, Gestapo-like “child protective service” tactics and lawsuits based in the idea that individuals are not responsible for their own safety, paternalistic anti-sex work arguments seem very credible to the average spineless American.

In the ‘40s, the watchword was “victory”. In the ’60s, it was “freedom”. But by the ’90s, it had degenerated into “safety”.  Americans once recognized that there are some things worth dying for; now we encase our children in bubble-wrap and cry like little girls at the slightest risk.  Our great-grandparents dared unknown frontiers, while we sit in our playpens content to watch the world go by on television, or to waste endless hours in “virtual worlds” when there’s a wonderful REAL universe waiting to be discovered.  People aren’t like this naturally; most of us are born with a yearning to explore the world, a zest for adventure and a thirst for knowledge, but these are ground out of children in factory schools, frightened out of them by “authorities” trying to create a race of docile, frightened sheep and squeezed out of them by overprotective parents who imagine “child traffickers” and “sexual predators” around every corner, despite the rarity of these criminals.  One of my favorite non-sex-work bloggers, Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids, uses the term “helicopter parents” for those who are always hovering over their kids, watching to ensure that nothing “happens to them”…and in the process squelching their growth and destroying their ability to act or even think independently.

Skenazy understands that safety is not and should not be such a paramount issue that it instantly trumps everything else, and though her concern is primarily with the mollycoddling of children into dull-witted, complacent obesity, she does occasionally touch on the way the “Safety First” mantra affects adults as well.  She recently mentioned this 2009 essay by Mike Rowe of the TV series Dirty Jobs, and it impressed me so much I’d like to share it:

My husband works on the oilrigs as a well tester.  We watched you folks do so without any eye protection!  Are you crazy?  Drilling a hole with no protective eyewear?  Between him, a well tester, and me, a workers’ compensation lawyer, we’re cringing!  Somebody could LOSE AN EYE!  Seriously – Safety First, fellas!  I would expect better from the Discovery Channel!! — suzemommy

I sincerely appreciate your concern for me, and agree that stupidity plays an ongoing role in my professional and personal life.  But believe me, I have no wish to be injured on the job.  However, it is not the objective of Dirty Jobs to conform to any particular set of safety standards, other than those dictated by the people for whom I happen to be working at the time.  I take my cues from them, and I assume whatever risk they assume, for the most part.  In the end, we hope to capture an honest look at what life is like for the workers in a particular venue.  We do not aspire to set an example, or be a poster child for OSHA or any particular industry.  I realize that my sound controversial, but it’s the truth, and not nearly as inflammatory as what I’m going to say next.

Ready?

Of all the platitudes automatically embraced in the workplace – and there are many – there is none more pervasive, erroneous, overused, and dangerous, than “Safety First!” in my opinion.  I have heard this slogan countless times.  I have seen it emblazoned on banners, T-shirts and hats.  I have sat through mandatory briefings and slideshows and presentations designed to “protect me from the hazards at hand.”  And I have listened as safety officers and foremen have run down list after list of OSHA requirements, all apparently construed to remind me that nothing is more important to the employer than my own well-being.  What a load of unmitigated nonsense.  In the jobs I have seen thus far, I can tell you with certainty, that safety, while always a major consideration, is never the priority.

Never.
Never, ever.
Not even once.

Is it important?  Of course.  But is it more important than getting the job done?  No.  Not even close.  Making money is more important than safety – always – and it’s very dangerous in my opinion to ignore that.  When we start to believe that someone else is more concerned about our own safety than we are, we become complacent, and then, we get careless.  When a business tells you that they are more concerned with your safety than anything else, beware.  They are not being honest.  They are hedging their own bets, and following the advice of lawyers hired to protect them from lawsuits arising from accidents.

You are correct to suggest that wearing safety glasses would have made the task at hand safer.  But why stop there?  Wearing a helmet would have made it safer still.  And wearing a steel mesh shark-suit would have made it really, super safe.  I know that sounds glib, and I know that many will wish to scold me for appearing cavalier.  But really, I’m not.  In a car, I wear a safety belt.  On a motorcycle, I wear a helmet.  Not because it’s the law, but because it seems a reasonable precaution.  And ultimately, the only one responsible for my own safety is me.  (Besides, if the government were really concerned with my safety above all else, wouldn’t they drop the legal speed limit to 30 miles an hour and make cars out of rubber?)

Again, you’re right – I probably should have been wearing safety glasses, not because safety is first, but because I like to hedge my bets.  We can always be safer.  We can always assume less risk.  But if safety were really first, I wouldn’t travel at all, or engage in any activity that required me to assume any risk.  And I certainly wouldn’t be hosting Dirty Jobs.

Thank you so much for saying that, Mr. Rowe.  The same goes for hookers; though we would like the government to stop making our jobs more dangerous than they have to be, and though we take all the reasonable precautions (such as condoms, screening and call-ins) we can, in the end making money is more important or else we’d all just be working at “safe”, boring, low-income jobs.  Each person must determine how safe is safe enough for himself, and each person has to decide whether he will go forth into the world as an active adult or just sit in the nursery with folded hands.

One Year Ago Today

The Love-Hate Relationship” attempts to explain why Americans seem to love whores as fictional characters, while persecuting us in reality.

Read Full Post »

Lies save trouble now, but may return in thunder and lightning.  –  Mason Cooley

For years, Melissa Farley has advanced her misandrist, anti-sex, anti-sex worker agenda with lies, distortions, omissions, out-of-context quotations, bogus studies and false generalizations, violating every ethical standard which is supposed to govern her avowed profession (psychology).  Since she long reserved her attacks for a marginalized group nobody in her own country would defend, she grew increasingly bold and began to extend her attacks to those who were not quite so marginalized, with predictable results; she at last has gone too far, and Dr. Calum Bennachie of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective has filed a complaint with the American Psychological Association asking that they revoke Farley’s membership for gross ethical violations.  Here’s the full text of the complaint (including its nine attachments) in PDF form, but since it’s quite lengthy (17 pages plus 98 pages of attachments), I figured most of my readers would prefer a synopsis.  We’ll start with the introductory letter:

Over the years, Dr Farley has published a number of papers and documents about sex work, making claims that all sex work is a form of violence against women.  She has used several of her studies to back this up.  In 2008 Dr Farley published the paper What Really Happened in New Zealand after Prostitution was Decriminalized in 2003? [attachment 2] on her website critiquing the Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee.  This critique contains several errors of fact that appear to be deliberately designed to mislead people.  Many of the false allegations made by Dr Farley in this paper have been repeated by her in her efforts to stigmatise sex workers and keep them criminal.  Dr Farley appears to have read the complete report, but has only reported or critiqued those parts that match her ideology.  In investigating her comments on this paper further, it was discovered that Dr Farley had completed research in New Zealand in 2003 without seeking ethical approval from the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS).  It was also discovered that during the course of this research, she claimed to be able to diagnose sex workers as having post traumatic stress disorder, despite using a flawed questionnaire [attachment 7], and not doing in depth interviews.  It is noted that Dr Farley has also completed other studies overseas, and investigations this year indicate that she never sought ethical approval, and sought to deliberately deceive the groups who facilitated the research for her.  She has also been cited as an expert witness, yet the testimony given is false or misleading.  Finally, the Canadian courts have found Dr Farley to be a less than reliable witness, finding her evidence “to be problematic”.  For the reasons in the text below, I believe her work is unethical, unbecoming of a psychologist, and is in breach of at least sections 5.01 and 8.10 of the APA’s Code of Ethics, perhaps more.  I believe that because of these breaches, Dr Farley should be removed from the membership of the APA.

Calum Bennachie

Just so we’re all on the same page, here are the relevant sections Dr. Bennachie cites; I think y’all will be able to immediately see how Farley violates them:

5.01 Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements

(a) Public statements include but are not limited to paid or unpaid advertising, product endorsements, grant applications, licensing applications, other credentialing applications, brochures, printed matter, directory listings, personal resumes or curricula vitae, or comments for use in media such as print or electronic transmission, statements in legal proceedings, lectures and public oral presentations, and published materials.  Psychologists do not knowingly make public statements that are false, deceptive, or fraudulent concerning their research, practice, or other work activities or those of persons or organizations with which they are affiliated.

(b) Psychologists do not make false, deceptive, or fraudulent statements concerning (1) their training, experience, or competence; (2) their academic degrees; (3) their credentials; (4) their institutional or association affiliations; (5) their services; (6) the scientific or clinical basis for, or results or degree of success of, their services; (7) their fees; or (8) their publications or research findings.

8.10 Reporting Research Results

(a) Psychologists do not fabricate data.  (See also Standard 5.01a, Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements.)

(b) If psychologists discover significant errors in their published data, they take reasonable steps to correct such errors in a correction, retraction, erratum, or other appropriate publication means.

After the initial letter, Dr. Bennachie explains his points in depth.  We already covered Justice Himel’s criticism in my column of July 24th, 2011, so let’s look at Bennachie’s  other complaints:

Farley claims that street prostitution increased 400% after decriminalization.  In 2003 the streetwalker population in Auckland was estimated to be 360, so according to Farley there should now be 1440; in actuality there are 230.  Since Farley read the report, her claim of a 400% increase can only be an outright lie.

Farley claims that the “Law Review Committee was biased and blatantly favored the sex industry”.  In actuality, the Committee included a former police commissioner, a Catholic nun, a criminologist and the coordinator of a group doing outreach to streetwalkers; considering that some of these people had spoken against the Prostitution Reform Act when it was being debated in Parliament, the claim that they were biased in favor of sex work is hardly credible.

Farley’s research in New Zealand was conducted without the approval of the New Zealand Psychological Society, and when she first arrived she hired a research assistant named Colleen Winn, who quit the job almost immediately over ethical concerns Farley refused to address.  For example, two Māori prostitutes reported that their first sexual experience of any kind was at 9, but Farley misrepresented that as “Māori women enter prostitution as young as 9 years.”

Farley has exploited sex worker rights groups in a number of countries (such as South Africa) where she is not as well-known as she is in North America, recruiting them to assist her “research” by claiming to be an advocate for sex workers and then distorting the data they help her to collect in order to argue for increased criminalization and persecution of sex workers.

Since 1998, Farley has claimed to be able to diagnose sex workers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the completion of a 15 minute self-administered questionnaire despite the fact that the National Center for PTSD states:

For making a diagnosis of PTSD…structured interviews will generally yield more valid results…[but those] that begin with a single gate-keeping item have poor validity for particular types of traumatic experiences.  Also, structured interviews with brief, single-item, closed-ended questions for each PTSD symptom are likely to be no more valid for making a diagnosis than self-report measures…Proper assessment of PTSD is complex, and in a forensic setting, it should include substantial attention to corroboration of self-reports through a records review and collateral information…

Farley’s repeated assertion that “67 percent [of sex workers] meet criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD” is therefore not supportable by her methods.

In 2006, Farley told a Canadian Parliamentary Committee that since the PRA “organized crime had increased dramatically in New Zealand, while trafficking in persons had not declined”; there was no evidence for such a claim in any published study.

Farley deliberately misstates New Zealand law to make it seem “child prostitution” is out of control since decriminalization by claiming that police “have no right of entry into brothels, and have no right to ask for age-identification papers of those in prostitution.”  In actuality, police are only forbidden from entering brothels without a warrant (except in certain emergencies), just as they are forbidden from entering any other business place without a warrant practically everywhere else in the free world.  Furthermore, the New Zealand Bill of Rights states that no individual can be forced to provide information to the police (like American Miranda Rights); however, the police can certainly ask a brothel owner to provide proof of age for the workers, since such proof is required by law.

Farley represented statements that decriminalization had failed to decrease violence as coming from sex workers, when in fact they were unsupported statements made by members of anti-prostitution NGOs.

In attachment 6, Dr. Bennachie identifies and documents a total of 23 errors in Farley’s “critique” of the Prostitution Reform Act report.  In his conclusion, he compares Farley’s methods and ethical violations to those of Paul Cameron, the anti-homosexual psychologist who was expelled from the APA in 1983, and asks that Farley be expelled in the same way and for the same reasons, namely gross ethical violations in furtherance of an anti-sex agenda.  Here’s hoping the APA listens; though her disciples will only cling to her more, Farley would no longer be able to claim legitimacy to the government entities through which she does her worst damage.

One Year Ago Today

Heart of Gold” explores the truth about the archetypal “Tart with a Heart.”

Read Full Post »

I ride in a decorated carriage,
My darling rides a blue-white horse.
Where should we tie the knot for our heart?
Under the Xiling pine and cypress.
  –  Su Xiaoxiao, “Song of Xiling Lake”

Su Xiaoxiao was a Chinese courtesan who lived in Qiantang City (modern Hangzhou) during the Southern Qi Dynasty (479–502); short as that reign was her life was shorter still, as she was born about 482 and died only 19 years later, about 501.  She was highly regarded both as a poetess and as a courtesan; the poem which forms the epigram (in Chinese each line is exactly five characters) is one of hers.  But like the five women whose stories I told in my column of one year ago today, it is very likely that her name would have been forgotten had she not met an untimely death (though in Su Xiaxiao’s case it was due to a terminal disease rather than murder).

Very little is actually known about her, including her real name; “Su” was her family name (she is said to have had a sister named Su Pannu) and “Xiaoxiao” is actually the character for “small” written twice, thus forming an affectionate diminutive when used as a nickname.  Her stage name in English would thus be most closely rendered as “Teeny-weeny Su”.  She is said to have come from a family of the artisan class and to have attracted sufficient attention for her beauty and skill at verse to have become well-known throughout the region by her mid-teens.  It was not uncommon for a popular courtesan in any country to be taken “off the market” by some nobleman recruiting her as his mistress (as we have seen in a number of the biographies I’ve published), but Su Xiaoxiao had not yet found a satisfactory arrangement when she was taken ill.  This has no doubt helped to give rise to the popular romantic legend that she did not wish to settle down with a man unless she truly loved him.  Given her poetry and the young age at which she died this may indeed have been true, but in any case many stories have grown from the fact.

One of these stories claims that she fell in love with a client who had professed his love for her and tried to get his family’s consent to honorably marry her, but they would not agree and he did not return to tell her.  Another says that she fell in love with a poor scholar, to whom she lent money so he could travel to the capital for the Imperial Examinations (an anachronism since they were not established until a century later); when he did not return as promised, she pined away for love of him and neglected her health, thus developing the illness which killed her.  Some versions of this tale say that his delay was caused by further testing through which he had won a very high position in the imperial service, but by the time he returned for her it was too late.  Though the idea of a much-sought-after courtesan dying for love of a poor man is certainly very romantic, this seems unlikely given that she is known to have accepted her death philosophically and wrote that heaven had blessed her by calling attention to her work through her untimely death.

Su Xiaoxiao was a favorite subject of Tang dynasty poetry and Ming dynasty stories and art (some Ming vases are illustrated with a traditional depiction of a legend in which her ghost serves as a muse to a poet); she also appeared frequently in plays and is the heroine of a Chinese television show called Loving Courtesan Su Xiaoxiao.  She was laid to rest in a tomb beside the Xiling Bridge at West Lake, and the site was visited by poets and artists for almost 1500 years until it was destroyed by the Red Guards during the violent anarchy of the Cultural Revolution.  But once China began to embrace Western tourism the local government recognized that the tomb might prove a popular destination, so it was rebuilt in 2004 and enshrined in a  pavilion with six posts on which poems were handwritten by famous calligraphers.  The tomb itself was even the subject of a poem by the Tang dynasty poet Li He (790-816), who himself died young:

“The Tomb of Su Xiaoxiao” by Li He (translated by Tommy W. K. Tao)

dewdrops on the orchids
in the shadow
like weeping eyes

finding naught to which
to betroth your heart
a haze of wild flowers
unworthy of picking

the grass like a carpet
the pines like a canopy
the wind be your garment
the water be your jade

in a varnished carriage
waiting all night

cold emerald light of the candles
flickering in vain

under the trees of Xiling
the wind blows the falling rain

Read Full Post »

The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time.  –  Franklin Pierce Adams

The last part of our monthly roundup of short news stories that remind me of past columns.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (April 2nd, 2011)

Like children playing a game of “Chinese Whispers”, fanatics repeat statistics that were weak or bogus to begin with, warping them into more and more fantastic shapes with each iteration.  The Estes & Weiner study used very questionable methodology to state that “100,000-300,000 American children and youth are at risk of sexual exploitation” based on such perilous circumstances as having their own cars or living near the Canadian or Mexican borders.  “Youth” was undefined, but included people old enough to work legally in bars or strip clubs, so I’m guessing they meant the 18-20 range.  The authors also included statistics which showed that the average underage prostitute enters the trade at 16, then in their text erroneously stated the average as 12-14, absurdly contradicting their own data!

These shaky statistics were then distorted again and again; “at risk” became “currently involved in”, “sexual exploitation” became “sex trafficking”, “children and youth” became “children”, and the wildly erroneous underage prostitution guess was added to the mixture to produce the often-heard myth that “100,000-300,000 children are trafficked for sex in the United States, and the average age at which they enter prostitution is 12-14”.  But it didn’t stop there; oh, no!  Soon “each year” was added, and the idea that child prostitutes started at 12-14 was replaced by the idea that the average “child sex slave” is currently 12-14.  By March the fanatics were stating that “100,000 – 300,000 children between the ages of 12 and 14 years old are victims of the child sex trade in this country”, and now it’s taken another step; this absurd article (which was called to my attention by regular reader Iain D) claims that there are 27 million people “trapped in modern-day slavery” (for comparison, that’s 5 million more than the entire population of Australia and almost half that of the UK) and that “The average age of sex workers is a saddening 12-14 years old.”  Shades of Melissa Farley!  Actually, I’m glad their declarations are growing so outrageous; not only is it a fascinating sociological study, it also accelerates the day when the whole house of cards comes crashing down.  Already, “human trafficking” researchers themselves are talking about a “credibility gap” in even official government “human trafficking” figures, so it’s only a matter of time before this hysteria goes the way of the “Satanic Panic”.

August Updates, Part Two (August 4th, 2011)

In this update to the earlier “Against Their Will” I reported South Korean whores’ massive protests against the persecution inflicted on them to satisfy American state department propaganda.  Here’s a short item published in Huffington Post on September 22nd, which features eight pictures of a recent protest by 1600 workers; note the odd inclusion of the pejorative “pimp” (presumably used to mean “brothel owner”) as I pointed out in the previous article.

Give It a Rest (August 18th, 2011)

The organized crime rackets which do business as “the police” in Texas continue their campaign of terror against scantily dressed women; this time, forty cops in Edinburgh, Texas literally committed armed robbery of a strip club (as reported in The Monitor on September 12th):

About 40 police officers descended on [Jaguars Gold Club]…looking for drugs…[they] did not find any…but took about $1,500 in cash and another $8,000 worth of club “tokens”…Jaguars’ owners filed suit against the city Aug. 26, accusing it and [Police Chief Rolando] Castañeda of attempting to strong-arm the all-nude club out of business.  They ask for monetary damages and for property seized by police to be returned.

For years, the club…sat outside the city limits.  But as Edinburg expanded, it eventually annexed the property…[which now] violates several of the city’s development codes.  But because it first existed in rural Hidalgo County, the establishment is grandfathered in and may continue to operate…Jaguars’ owners maintain its problems came “Once Castañeda assumed the position of the city’s police chief…unable to close down Jaguars on zoning grounds, he began a campaign to eradicate” the club…[It] began in late May, when three marked police units staked out the nude club for three nights…to intimidate potential customers…[then in] August…dozens of officers swarmed the club…zip-tied each person’s hands…and handcuffed Tony Hadaway, the club’s manager…Beyond taking the cash and club tokens, officers allegedly seized laptop and tablet computers, backpacks and one manager’s wallet.  Hadaway asked officers to keep an inventory list of the seized items, which “they declined to do and have never done,” the lawsuit states.  A second manager’s wallet was seized and never returned…

In other words, the city invaded and stole the land on which an established business already existed, and because it can’t force that business to abide by its arbitrary rules has simply decided to force it out of operation instead by frightening away its employees and clientele and robbing the owners blind.  So much for the “rule of law”.

Tyranny By Consensus (September 1st, 2011)

In this column I reported the latest attempt by Michael Weinstein and his “AIDS Healthcare Foundation” to force porn performers to use condoms whether they like it or not, even if such use would create more problems than it solved.  Following that article regular reader Marla posted a very informative comment in which she called attention to this video called AHF: Follow the Money which reveals a few things Weinstein would prefer people didn’t know:

Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a man with an agenda, and it’s got nothing to do with public health…Weinstein opposes government funding of research to cure AIDS; instead, [he] wants those billions of government dollars to be diverted toward treatment and prevention services, the kind that he and his organization provides.  Michael Weinstein and AHF even sued Pfizer over Viagra, alleging it encouraged risky sexual behavior…after Pfizer turned down his multi-million dollar funding request…Weinstein is an opportunist who shamelessly exploits the misfortunes of others.  When news hit that a single adult industry performer had tested positive for HIV, Weinstein revealed his plan to make the world a better place by demanding that adult performers be required by law to wear condoms.  And which AHF supporter provided the picket signs for AHF’s protests outside the Hustler Hollywood store?  LifeStyles Condoms.  Want to know the key to Weinstein’s real agenda?  Follow the money.  Michael Weinstein sure does.

I have maintained since the beginning of this “controversy” that the porn actors themselves should be allowed to decide what’s best for them, so you may be interested in the viewpoint of porn actress Lorelei Lee on Weinstein’s latest shenanigans, published in Tits and Sass on September 19th.  She explains how the AIM system (which was closed down by a lawsuit from AHF) kept performers safe, and points out that:

…at least half of the positive HIV tests that Weinstein touts as being ‘proof’ of the need for a condom mandate occurred due to circumstances in the performers’ private lives.  Mandatory on-set condom use would not change this…six positive tests in ten years, among thousands of performers in hundreds of thousands of shoots, strikes me as a shockingly low number…we don’t know how safe or unsafe we are as adult film performers because we don’t have comparable statistics from other populations.

Her conclusion says it all: “How dare Michael Weinstein claim that we as an industry have shown a disregard for each other’s health and safety? His is the only outrageous disregard I’ve seen exhibited lately.”

To Spite Their Faces (September 6th, 2011)

Leftover second-wave feminists are desperately trying to keep women from moving forward, rediscovering their femininity and abandoning the sex war aggressively promoted by neofeminists for decades.  So it’s no surprise that feminist journalists have tried to trash Dr. Catherine Hakim’s reputation in order to discourage women from reading her new book, Erotic Capital, which advises them to use their natural advantages.  What’s sad is that, as reported in this column, the Guardian gave two of them a pulpit from which to spout their hatred.  Fortunately, the Sunday Times had more sense and invited Dr. Hakim to write a response to those criticisms; it was published in the Sunday Times Style magazine on September 11th under the title “Know Your Assets”, but since no online copy is available Dr. Hakim kindly provided me with this copy, which I have stored in PDF form for my readers.

One Year Ago Today

All in the Family” examines the relationships between escorts and their relatives, which range from the strained to the supportive.

Read Full Post »

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law…that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.  –  H.L. Mencken

Our monthly roundup of short news stories that remind me of past columns.

Lack of Evidence (December 16th, 2010)

In this column I wrote that in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,

…winking is evidence of prostitution.  In Detroit, not wearing a bra and/or panties serves a similar function, and in many places it’s having more than one condom in one’s purse.  And for a woman to appear alone on a street has been used as evidence since the beginning of prohibition over a century ago.  Cops are not allowed such ridiculous excuses for “evidence” for any other “crime”, so why are they allowed it for prostitution?  It’s because it is the only human activity which is legal to perform for free but not for directly-negotiated pay, so physical evidence is impossible.  There is no body, no stolen goods, no bruises; even DNA evidence recovered from a hooker’s skin could only suggest sex had occurred, not prostitution.

Most of the time, they just lie about what happened or label cell phones “criminal tools”, but some of them go to quite extraordinary lengths, as reported in The Smoking Gun on September 15th:

Undercover vice squad officers routinely come into contact with skeptical prostitutes wary that their prospective john may actually be a police officer.  So, before discussing business, a hooker will often ask the purported sex-seeker to first expose himself, since that is a no-no for a cop.  Anticipating this demand, a Florida detective “attempting to solicit prostitutes” last night hit the Sarasota streets with a “flaccid rubber replica of a penis” stuffed into his pants…when the detective asked [a woman he picked up] how much it would cost for oral sex, the woman was noncommittal…“I then exposed a flaccid rubber replica of a penis and placed a condom on it,” wrote Smith.  “She immediately leaned over and put it into her mouth.”  At this point…[the cop] spotted an opossum crossing the road and slammed on the brakes, “causing the female to slide out of her seat and mildly into the dashboard.”  The report does not make clear whether she still had Smith’s sheathed fake penis in her mouth at the time…

Despite the known tendency of Sarasota cops to lie about vice operations, Florida is obviously stricter than states like Pennsylvania, where cops are allowed to get as naked as they like or even rape women before arresting them.  But this ridiculous dildo dodge proves nothing except that a pervert cop had a sex toy in his car (big surprise).  I hope she sues him for the head injury as the other Florida woman who was tased and beaten by cops is doing.

Thinking with the Wrong Head (March 2nd, 2011)

Nearly every politician sees whores, and practically none of them get caught because they have the sense to hire them from a discreet agency rather than trolling Craigslist like Chris Lee or cruising for streetwalkers like Kenneth Maag, the (now former) Mayor of Ottawa, Ohio:

Kenneth Maag resigned as the Mayor of Ottawa [Ohio] two weeks after his arrest on charges of soliciting prostitution…Maag also asked that his name be removed from the ballot in the upcoming election…[in which he] was running unopposed.  Maag was arrested on [August 29th] …during a prostitution sting…[and] charged with solicitation for prostitution, a third degree misdemeanor…

CORRECTION, 10/5/11:  I originally missed that this was a story from a city in Ohio and presumed it was Ottawa, Canada; my grievous error was called to my attention by a reader from the larger and more famous Canadian Ottawa.  Boy, is my face red!  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!  And I’ll let my husband know that a spanking is due for my carelessness when he gets home from his current trip (and lest any of you think that’s no punishment, think again; his spankings hurt!)

He Said, She Said (March 4th, 2011)

When I mentioned the John Hopkins case again in my September 15th column, regular reader Bandoblue decided to investigate and discovered a link which led me to this New York Post follow-up from June 29th:

…John Hopkins, who had been in jail since his arrest in February, was released without bail after prosecutor Christina Fay told Brooklyn Judge Patricia DiMango that his accuser was loath to come back to New York to testify…The woman, who had a previous consensual S&M relationship with Hopkins, was found by cops curled in the fetal position, chained to a radiator.  Hospital records showed she was suffering severe alcohol poisoning.  She has since left the state and has missed several court appearances.  Hopkins walked out of court hand-in-hand with his sister, an Episcopalian minister and former assistant district attorney in Maryland.  [They] declined to comment, but his lawyer Andrew Stoll maintains Hopkins did not commit any crime.  “Innocent people get accused of crimes…Everyone should know that.”

Though Hopkins was released, his ordeal isn’t quite over yet; according to The Framing Business his case was scheduled for trial on September 20th, though I haven’t been able to dig up anything on how that went.

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (March 22nd, 2011)

Many well-meaning people who believe themselves to be on our side call for prostitution to be “legalized and heavily regulated”; they do not understand that such “heavy” regulatory schemes are terribly unfair (subjecting whores to far more supervision, higher fees and nuisance inspections than other service jobs) and often have such onerous restrictions that they simply drive many women back underground.  70% of Nevada prostitutes prefer to work illegally than to subject themselves to the Draconian regime of the legal brothels, and if the scheme reported in the September 15th Edmonton Journal gets any more expensive, arbitrary and elaborate than what is described here, they’ll be right back where they started:

Proposed new rules for escort agencies and body-rub parlours will put Edmonton at Canada’s forefront for regulating erotic businesses, the city’s chief licensing officer says.  Under recommended bylaw changes released Thursday, escorts and body-rub workers will need to take a sexual exploitation information session and prove they’re over 18 before receiving a business licence.  Legitimate massage practitioners would be regulated separately from the steamy side of the field, with a lower fee and no more need for police checks.  The city also wants to form a sex-industry enforcement team, similar to the group inspecting bars and nightclubs, that could include police, bylaw, health, employment and immigration, border services and community members…

…He expects the sexual exploitation course, the only one he knows about in Canada, would last two or three hours and cover such issues as employment standards and human trafficking.  Police would be able to recommend to [licensing officer Roger] Kirillo whether he should give escort agencies and exotic entertainment agencies licences, based primarily on whether those in charge have a history of violence.  The Ontario Court of Appeal still hasn’t ruled on a case that successfully challenged the constitutionality of laws against keeping a bawdy house, pimping and soliciting in public, but Kirillo said that isn’t the issue right now.  “We’re not licensing prostitution.  We’re licensing an adult entertainment and erotic industry”…

Setting aside the idea that a “training course” run by social workers who have never hooked a day in their lives could be anything but insulting and patronizing, as soon as an “enforcement team” and artificially-higher fees enter the picture the door is open for abuse.  As for Kirillo’s crowing about this being the “forefront” of regulating erotic businesses, he’s obviously unfamiliar with the history of the subject because what he’s proposing is the same as the system established soon after the French Revolution, wherein police are allowed to decide who gets licenses.  Any whore who bribes the police in money and sex as often as demanded, and madams who give cops the run of their establishments, get the OK and others don’t.  This isn’t the “forefront” of anything; it’s plain old government pimping again.

One Year Ago Today

Safe Targets” exposes an attempt to extort money from Denver escorts by threatening to trash their reputations, thus taking advantage of the vulnerability engendered by criminalization.

Read Full Post »

It’s all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.  –  George Bernard Shaw

One year ago today I published “The Camel’s Nose”, an early miscellanea column; I hadn’t yet started grouping updates and miscellanea as separate columns, so the post is actually composed of one new topic (Congress’ first major attempt to gain control of the internet) and two updates.  Since then (with the help of my diligent readers) my access to relevant articles has grown considerably, so I hereby present you with twelve updates, some of them referring to multiple (though connected) articles.  Whew!

A Whore in the Bedroom (September 9th, 2010)

In this column I expressed the philosophy that “When one has a living creature under one’s care, it is one’s responsibility to take care of that creature’s needs, or else to arrange for someone else to do so.  And if you shirk that responsibility, you only have yourself to blame for the inevitable and foreseeable consequences.”  Usually it’s women who tend to be lax in this department, and their neglect keeps whores in business.  But a number of my readers have said that it’s not unusual to see the opposite nowadays, and this story from the Telegraph of September 5th (called to my attention by regular reader Marla) is an example of it:

…France’s civil code…states married couples must agree to a “shared communal life”.  A judge has now ruled that this law implies that “sexual relations must form part of a marriage”.  The rare legal decision came after the wife filed for divorce two years ago, blaming the break-up on her husband’s lack of activity in the bedroom.  A judge in Nice…granted the divorce and ruled the husband…was solely responsible for the split.  But the 47-year-old ex-wife then took him back to court demanding 10,000 euros in compensation for “lack of sex over 21 years of marriage”.  The ex-husband claimed “tiredness and health problems” had prevented him from being more attentive between the sheets…but [the] judge…ruled:  “A sexual relationship between husband and wife is the expression of affection they have for each other, and in this case it was absent.  By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other.”

I certainly agree in principle, though I would’ve settled with naming the husband at fault rather than actually awarding monetary damages.  It’s interesting to see some of the online  commentary on this story, which seems to think the idea that spouses owe each other sex is somehow weird even though it should be obvious.  OK, guys, I’m always standing up for your right to get sufficient nookie from your wives, but now it’s the ladies’ turn; if you’re not putting out as much as she needs, get with the program!

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? (November 17th, 2010)

In this item I reported that Gardasil, the vaccine against the human papillomavirus, isn’t reaching the girls who need it most:  “70% of the girls who are most at risk for venereal warts are either not getting the shot or else failing to show up for the two boosters.”  I stated that in my opinion, the real reason for the lack of interest isn’t any of the faux reasons advanced by opponents but rather plain American prudishness:

If there were a vaccine for HIV or hepatitis people might get it because those diseases can also be spread by blood, but if there were one for herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea or even chlamydia I’m sure it would be just as unpopular as this one.  And the reason for that is the same reason that the rate of venereal disease is vastly higher among university students than it is among streetwalkers:  The bizarre but popular delusion, encouraged by cops and religious fundamentalists, that only “bad girls” take precautions against venereal diseases.

Despite her nonsensical claim that Gardasil can cause brain damage (an idea so farfetched a team of bioethicists bet her $11,000 she couldn’t substantiate it), this is no doubt the real reason behind would-be presidential candidate Michelle Bachman’s opposition to the vaccine:

Physicians are bracing for more parents to refuse the HPV vaccine…[as] comments by [Michelle Bachman] stoke growing and unfounded fears about a whole class of common immunizations needed to fight disease…Bachmann first raised the issue during a Republican presidential debate on Monday as a swipe at Republican rival and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who issued an executive order in 2007 mandating girls get the HPV vaccine as part of a school immunization requirement…she questioned the state’s authority to force “innocent little 12-year-old girls” to have a “government injection” that was “potentially dangerous.”  The following day, she told NBC’s “Today” show the story of a woman from Tampa, Florida, who approached her after the debate and said her daughter became “mentally retarded” after getting the Gardasil vaccine…Physician groups…rushed out statements defending the safety of Merck’s vaccine and Cervarix made by GlaxoSmithKline, whose most common side effects include a sore arm, a rash and fever…The [president of the American Academy of Pediatrics] says there is absolutely no scientific validity to Bachmann’s statement…”Since the vaccine has been introduced (in 2006), more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record”…But no amount of proof will suffice for some families, who fear that even a small percentage of children may be harmed…according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 32 percent of adolescent girls last year had gotten all three shots of the HPV vaccine…

I received the vaccine last year and experienced fever after the first dose and a sore arm after the second.  The recommended course is three shots, but as mentioned above many girls never get all three.  There’s at least some good news on that front, though:

Two doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine may offer just as much protection…as the three-dose regimen now being used…[according to] data from…[a] trial [involving] 7,466 women…20 percent of them got only one dose or two doses for a variety of reasons.  After four years, the researchers found, two doses…offered the same level of protection against HPV infection as three.  Even one dose offered a high level of protection.  While the researchers said that more studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the fewer doses, they wrote in a journal news release:  “Our clinical efficacy data provide suggestive evidence that an HPV vaccine program that provides fewer doses to more women could potentially reduce cervical cancer incidence more than a standard three-dose program that uses the same total number of doses but in fewer women”…

Getting it down to one dose would be better still, reducing both cost and attrition; after that, the only obstacle left to protecting girls from this potentially fatal disease is parental ignorance and stupidity.

What a Week! (November 28th, 2010)

In this column I mentioned a new mega-brothel in Spain, pointing out that such bordellos

…can only help to solidify our position; large and prominent businesses not only protect their own interests, but also enrich a number of other nearby and related businesses which will also devote money to stopping any attempts by control freaks to stop the gravy train.  The legal efforts of big, wealthy casinos generally tend to help little truck stops with slot machines and have made both crooked gambling dens and police persecution of back-room card games a thing of the past, and the legal efforts of big, wealthy brothels will also tend to assist small brothels and solitary practitioners of the trade.

Given that premise, this item from Australia (called to my attention by regular reader Stick) might be considered somewhat bad news:

A proposal for what would have been Australia’s largest brothel has been unanimously rejected by the City of Sydney Council…Lord Mayor Clover Moore told the meeting there was little doubt such a large brothel would have an impact of its neighbours…Council officers had reported the business had a record of good management since it opened in 2002, but the meeting heard there were some residents who did not agree…”Residents have told councillors about the impacts from traffic and antisocial behaviour.  Those impacts are expected to increase if the size is doubled.  It is the size I think that is of great concern,” Councillor Moore said…Several councillors made clear they supported the operation of registered brothels within the city, but not of the size proposed.

Taxes and other business-derived fees are like a drug to politicians, and once they’re hooked they’re unlikely to kick the habit; because of that one must be wary of governmental attempts to keep sex businesses small (and therefore less lucrative from a tax standpoint).  Still, the councilors made it clear that it was the size of the business that was the problem rather than its nature, so the rejection probably isn’t any major cause for alarm.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »