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Archive for March 15th, 2012

Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage.  –  Henry David Thoreau

As far as anyone can tell, Lenin never actually used the phrase “useful idiots” (or its Russian equivalent) to describe Soviet sympathizers in Western countries; it appears to originate with some journalist or historian and first appeared in an Italian newspaper in 1948.  But it’s an apt description of ideologues so blinded by their own beliefs that they unwittingly support tyranny.  As I’ve pointed out before, neofeminists fall into this category:  they are so fixated on their monstrous jihad against men and male sexuality that they don’t realize predominantly-male political establishments used them to help establish the current regime of universal criminality, and continue to use them to further establish women as legal incompetents.  If you’re angry at the current US drive to make abortion and/or birth control unavailable to many women, or at fascist “child protective services” in many Western countries, direct part of that anger toward the neofeminists who pushed “mandatory prosecution” laws and the Swedish Model.  Once the precedent that a woman is incompetent to make her own decisions about her sexual relationships is firmly established, even a first-year law student can write a compelling argument that she isn’t competent to make decisions about the pregnancies and children which might result from such relationships, either.

But the useful idiots can’t see things like this, and even if they could they wouldn’t blame themselves for it.  So they’re entirely unable to comprehend the danger of the weapons they’ve handed legislators via “end demand” rhetoric; consider the Georgia law I discussed in my column of one year ago today which defines a prostitute as a passive contraband object (much as drugs are defined).  Or, the push by Washington insider Swanee Hunt to allow the government to take and retain DNA samples from virtually anyone the police feel like pointing a finger at:

For the last six years, police across the United States have been empowered by federal and state law to collect DNA from the people they arrest in order to build a government DNA database…[which] includes those who have yet to face trial as well as people who are later found innocent.  Now…[prohibitionists] want to…scare people out of involvement in the sex trade…by threatening [them] with the possibility of being marked for life in a government database…In 2005, a provision added to the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act permitted the collection and indefinite retention of DNA from, as the Center for Constitutional Rights understood at the time, “anyone arrested for any crime whether or not they are convicted, any non-U.S. citizen detained or stopped by federal authorities for any reason, and everyone in federal prison.”

In the intervening years, there have been several challenges to pre-conviction DNA collection and retention, with some courts divided as to whether or not DNA collection is a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.  Despite the questionable constitutionality…[Swannee Hunt’s group] Demand Abolition has commissioned a study proposing that men who buy sex should be added to government DNA databases.  Demand Abolition…is engaged in a national campaign to increase arrests and criminal penalties for prostitution…[and] explicitly recognizes and exploits the consequences of being added to a government DNA database for people arrested merely under suspicion of committing misdemeanors, and who have not yet been tried or convicted.  In fact, many people arrested for buying sex never go to trial; instead, they are routed to a growing number of scared-straight programs, sometimes known as “John’s schools,” offered by law enforcement.  People arrested for buying sex are also disproportionately drawn from low-income communities, communities of color and immigrant communities…Some [are] arrested for not walking away from a decoy cop fast enough, which officers [take as]…”intent” to buy sex…Despite concerns that the…programs are creating an incentive for cops to step up policing…in order to collect fines…they’ve become part of policing practice in dozens of cities [and] are…part of a larger national…[push for] greater punishment…by organizations like the Hunt Alternatives Fund and its Demand Abolition program…

Constitutional considerations are apparently beyond the scope of organizations like Demand Abolition, which advocates for extra-legal means to, as it claims, abolish the sex trade, but which, in practice, threaten and jail people involved in the sex trade…Demand Abolition also advocates for a range of [extralegal] programs that use…public shame against people who pay for sex:  placing their mugshots on billboards and Web sites, or seizing their cars and property — before trial or conviction.  DNA collection may be an extension of these tactics…but…the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is among those who have argued that the Fourth Amendment applies to DNA…[and that] pre-conviction DNA collection runs the risk of reversing our legal standards of presuming innocence…There’s currently one case…on its way to the Supreme Court, which has yet to decide if it will hear the case this year.

…In its mission to eliminate all commercial sex, anti-prostitution campaigners like Demand Abolition have seized on an issue of inequity that sex workers have long identified.  Women selling sex face far more severe criminal consequences than men who buy sex.  So it could sound like gender equity to some ears when they claim that the solution is…to increase the consequences of arrest, to stoke a cultural and criminal atmosphere where no man would dare risk his reputation or livelihood over even one arrest.  If it sounds a bit Victorian, you’re not wrong.  Theirs is an understanding of prostitution that hasn’t advanced much in the last century, including the casting of women from the “helping class” — researchers, clinicians and philanthropists  — as those who have the scientific, legal and moral authority to shame men out of buying sex.  The difference today is, for activists who want to cloak their evangelism for a world without prostitution in science, there’s far more advanced science to draw from…

Defining men who buy sex as a special class is one way Demand Abolition attempts to make the case for enhanced policing…[but] in order to qualify…[as a] non-sex buyer [men] had to avoid some activities so common that nearly anyone who has been on the Internet twice in the past week may not pass…The claims that men who buy sex are more prone to criminal behavior than other men are what inform the call for a DNA database of men arrested for buying sex.  In an interview this week with the Demand Abolition study’s most vocal author, Melissa Farley (who has referred to sex workers as “house niggers” in testimony before the Rhode Island legislature), she doubled-down on the study’s claims, stating that “[men who buy sex] are committing lots more crimes, including crimes associated with violence against women…” The number of men who reported that they committed one of these crimes is, even for the study’s size, not quite “lots.”  Six men of the 100 identified as sex buyers reported they had committed assault and battery, as compared to the two men of the 101 non-buyers.  Four sex buyers had possessed marijuana, versus two non-buyers…the real purpose of the database…is to act as a deterrent…Even if the establishment of DNA database could improve the lives of people in the sex trade, that isn’t the immediate goal, if it is a goal at all, of the Demand Abolition activists.  Their focus, as has been the focus of nearly 150 years of anti-prostitution campaigns, is almost exclusively limited to tactics for scaring men out of buying sex.  As they seek to define yet more people as criminals, they are also unconcerned with due process and the law itself.

The article is by Melissa Gira Grant, and is worth reading in its entirety.  She and the attorneys she interviews recognize what prohibitionists don’t and won’t:  that because there is no real way to distinguish a prostitute from any other woman, allowing the state to collect DNA from those accused of “intent to solicit prostitution” allows it to add any man to the database on the whim of a cop.  And when this precedent is combined with that of female incompetence to allow women to be involuntarily added as well (for our own good, of course), you can bet Farley, Hunt and the rest of the usual gang of useful idiots will point fingers at “patriarchy”, the “pimp lobby”, or anybody else but themselves.

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