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Archive for January 20th, 2012

Our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.  –  Edward Gibbon

When I first published “Welcome To Our World” one year ago today, I had no idea I would run into so many examples of rhetoric startlingly similar to that used against prostitutes.  The original column discussed attacks on porn and surrogate motherhood, but since then I’ve discovered articles about undercover cops raping activists, a retarded adult being forbidden to have sex, Gail Dines’ inane anti-porn agenda, nursing mothers sharing milk, a neofeminist who wants fraternities banned, anti-beggar laws in Lithuania and many more.  Today we’ll look at three more; the first is a New York Times article from December 23rd:

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this month that the United States would use diplomacy to encourage respect for gay rights around the world, my heart leapt.  I knew her words — “gay people are born into, and belong to, every society in the world”— to be true, but in my country they are too often ignored.  The right to marry whom we love is far from our minds.  Across Africa, the “gay rights” we are fighting for are more stark — the right to life itself.  Here, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people suffer brutal attacks, yet cannot report them to the police for fear of additional violence, humiliation, rape or imprisonment at the hands of the authorities.  We are expelled from school and denied health care…If your boss finds out (or suspects) you are gay, you can be fired immediately.  People are outed in the media — or if they have gay friends, they are assumed to be “gay by association”…

Many Africans believe that homosexuality is an import from the West, and ironically they invoke religious beliefs and colonial-era laws that are foreign to our continent to persecute us…Thanks to the absurd ideas peddled by American fundamentalists, we are constantly forced to respond to the myth…that homosexuality leads to pedophilia…In Uganda, American evangelical Christians even held workshops and met with key officials to preach their message of hate shortly before a bill to impose the death penalty for homosexual conduct was introduced in…2009…the bill was shelved…but the current parliament has revived it and could send it to the floor for a vote at any time…Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon [have] all …recently stepped up enforcement of anti-gay laws or moved to pass new legislation…Not all Ugandans are homophobic.  Some say there are more pressing issues to worry about…and believe we should have the same rights as anyone else.  But they are not in power and cannot control the majority who want to hurt us…

I think the parallel is screamingly obvious, but I feel compelled to point out the bitter irony of the U.S. State Department “encouraging respect” for homosexuals around the world while simultaneously encouraging persecution of sex workers, who are also “born into, and belong to, every society in the world.”  Obviously Clinton’s little sign there doesn’t apply to us.

The second item is a Julian Sanchez article published at Cato on January 3rd:

I’ve yet to encounter a technically clueful person who believes the Stop Online Piracy Act will actually do anything to meaningfully reduce—let alone “stop”—online piracy, and so I haven’t bothered writing much about the absurd numbers the bill’s supporters routinely bandy about…But then I saw the very astute David Carr’s otherwise excellent column on SOPA’s pitfalls, which took those inflated numbers more or less as gospel…The movie and music recording industry have gotten away with using statistics that don’t stand up to the most minimal scrutiny, over and over, for years, to hoodwink both Congress and the general public…

The bogus numbers Carr cites…actually represent a substantial retreat from even more ludicrous statistics the copyright industries long peddled…Intellectual property infringement was supposedly costing the U.S. economy $200–250 billion per year, and had killed 750,000 American jobs…The $200–250 billion number…originated in a 1991 sidebar in Forbes, but it was not a measurement of the cost of “piracy” to the U.S. economy.  It was an unsourced estimate of the total size of the global market in counterfeit goods.  Beyond the obvious fact that these numbers are decades old, counterfeiting of physical goods imported in bulk and sold by domestic retail distributors is, rather obviously, a totally different phenomenon…from the problem of illicit individual consumer downloads of movies, music, and software.  The 750,000 jobs number had originated in a 1986 speech…by the secretary of commerce estimating that counterfeiting could cost the United States “anywhere from 130,000 to 750,000″ jobs.  Nobody in the Commerce Department was able to identify where those figures had come from…in 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology.”  Now, if a single journalist could discover as much with a few days work, minimal due diligence should have enabled highly paid lobbyists to arrive at the same conclusion.  The only way to explain the longevity of these figures, if we charitably rule out deliberate deception, is to infer that the people repeating them simply did not care whether what they were saying was true…

Sanchez  goes on to break down the newer figures, and shows that the actual losses from online piracy to all Hollywood studios combined is about “$446 million—which, by coincidence, is roughly the amount grossed globally by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.”  The article is well worth reading in its entirety for anyone who cares about internet freedom, but the portion I’ve excerpted here is sufficient to demonstrate that SOPA’s proponents obtain their “statistics” in pretty much the same way as the prohibitionists obtain theirs.

The last one for today appeared in Sexuality Policy Watch on January 8th.  It describes an insidious new Brazilian law which requires pregnant women to register, ostensibly to “help” them but in reality to monitor them; it also defines a fetus as a “person”.

[On December 26th]…the Ministry of Health…[enacted] Provisional Measure 557…without discussing it with women’s health organizations.  MP 557 instituted the National System of Registration, Tracking and Follow-up of Pregnant and Puerperal Women…[which] “aims to ensure better access, coverage and quality of maternal health care, notably for pregnant women at risk”…As soon as that information fell in the hands of social networks, MP was bombarded, even by the courts.  “That MP is really absurd, a fallacy on the part of the federal government, as it does not achieve the purposes for which it was created,” denounced Beatriz Galli [an attorney, women’s rights activist and member of the Bioethics and Biolaw commissions of Brazil’s Bar Association]…“It demonstrates the lack of commitment to issues to which Brazil already …[agreed in] international human rights treaties.  It…has several legal inconsistencies and even unconstitutional articles”…[Galli stated that the act is not empowered to accomplish its stated purpose, the reduction of maternal mortality, and is in actuality designed to define] “the woman…as a vessel for the development of a new human being.  It violates women’s autonomy and dignity, denying them the recognition of freedom of choice…it reduces women to incubators…[it] violates the woman’s private life by creating a compulsory register to control and monitor her reproductive life…[MP 557] aims to create a register of pregnant women, violating the private life and confidentiality of medical information included in patient’s charts and records at a political time when several clandestine abortion clinics are…being closed…Brazilian legislation criminalizes the practice of abortion and is used to close clinics and prosecute hundreds of women…[and now] the State proposes a register for monitoring and tracking pregnant women.”

[Galli also stated that] “According to MP 557, the woman will have the legal ‘obligation’ to have all the children she [conceives], as she will be monitored by the State for this purpose.  Thus, it violates the right to equality prescribed in the Federal Constitution, because only women become pregnant…[it] is a huge setback to women’s reproductive right policies in Brazil…Conservative sectors, both within and outside the government, are trying to establish a new legal order which does not consider women as subjects of constitutional and human rights.”

I’m sure every well-informed whore understands the inevitable results of forcing women to “register” for their own “protection”, and that the Brazilian women affected by this law would recognize our position if it were presented to them.  That’s why I’m actually very pleased to see so many stories like this; the more people are crushed under the wheels of government, the more their personal lives are invaded by official busybodies, and the more they suffer from bogus statistics and lies spread by charlatans hoping to advance their own agendas, the more they will recognize – and sympathize with – the abuses habitually heaped upon prostitutes.

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