The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. – James Fenimore Cooper
On December 17th, 2010 New Orleans reclassified prostitution, marijuana possession and two other minor crimes as municipal offenses, thus allowing police to write tickets instead of making arrests; in my column of one year ago today I wrote, “while cops will still have the option to arrest hookers if they please, it’s likely they will be discouraged from doing so because the move was intended to cut costs, reduce crowding in Orleans Parish Prison and unclog courts. This also means escort stings will likely become a thing of the past in New Orleans; can you imagine their setting up an expensive operation just to write a girl a ticket?” Alas, I underestimated the stupidity and pigheadedness of the NOPD and the pure sadism of its chief, Ronal Serpas; while at first it really looked as though the city had ceased its decades-long war on the profession to which it owes its existence (even convicting one cop of kidnapping and attempting to rape a prostitute and firing two others for harassing and falsely arresting streetwalkers), the police later launched a campaign intended specifically to destroy as many people’s lives as possible before the state took away their license to do so.
To explain what I mean by that, please permit me this reprint from my column of July 2nd:
Regular readers know that prostitutes in Louisiana are routinely charged with the ludicrously-named “Crime Against Nature” felony in addition to simple prostitution, but while it’s generally dropped as part of a plea deal with white middle-class escorts like me it tends to stick for poor (especially black or transsexual) streetwalkers, who are then committed to the “sex offender” registry for decades (40% of Orleans Parish “sex offenders” are there for this non-crime). In my column of February 26th I reported on a federal challenge (Doe vs. Jindal) to this law and mentioned that WWAV had other strategies for defeating it besides the court case. Well, I can now tell you what I was asked to withhold in February: One of those strategies was a legislative one, and it bore fruit Thursday (June 30th) as Governor Bobby Jindal signed a law reducing “solicitation for crime against nature” to a misdemeanor, thus removing the registration requirement. The litigation must continue because everyone previously convicted is still classified as a felon, but considering the new law I think there’s a good chance the case will succeed and those who were victimized by the arbitrary pronouncements of little tin gods in the police and prosecutor’s offices will soon have a chance at a normal life again.
But Louisiana politics being what it is, somebody on the losing side tipped off the NOPD that its window of opportunity for inflicting decades of torment by a single act of piggish sadism was about to close, so Chief Serpas launched two major persecution campaigns within a few weeks with the specific intention of inflicting “crime against nature” charges on as many victims as possible – and thus getting them labeled “sex offenders” – before he was forever barred from ever doing so again on June 30th:
…New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas…said 51 people were arrested on drug and prostitution charges during undercover stings set up during the past three weeks…[then launched a second series of stings only two weeks later which resulted in the arrest of] 29 men who allegedly agreed to pay for sex with undercover…female officers…Superintendent Ronal Serpas said police arrested the men…between June 14 and June 22. The men were booked with the solicitation of prostitutes and crimes against nature…“They (citizens) have children and families and want to use their neighborhoods,” Serpas said…[he] added that prostitution can result in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and is often linked to other crimes, such as carjackings or robbery. “Prostitution is a crime of addiction and violence,” Serpas said…
As I pointed out when I first reported this last August, the areas mentioned in the article aren’t “neighborhoods” in any meaningful way:
…they’re industrial areas whose only inhabitants are rats and the residents of cheap motels. And of course no story of police persecution of whores would be complete without the obligatory lies about disease and violent crime. I guess Chief Serpas didn’t get the memo about us all being “trafficking victims” now.
Governments, like all organisms, exist to feed and grow; since they are non-producers, they do so by consuming progressively greater proportions of the wealth of the society on which they are parasitic. If a society is fortunate this parasitism is largely passive, like a benign tumor. But in most modern “democratic” societies bureaucrats feel compelled to justify their existence by ever-increasing control and regulation, especially regulation which results in more wealth for the government or benefits for its political cronies. Sometimes lower levels of government grow “too big for their breeches” and attempt to countermand the laws established by their feudal overlords; Louisiana is particularly known for this, as evidenced not only by its attempt to circumvent Lawrence vs. Texas, but also by its recent moves to outlaw United States legal tender and New Orleans’ criminalization of free speech. It won’t ever end, but perhaps sooner or later either the subjects below or the courts above will curtail these particular abuses, and the politicians will be forced to find new ways to rob, exploit and subjugate the populace.