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Archive for August 14th, 2012

The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.  –  Johann von Schiller

In “That Was the Week That Was” #28 I told you about a horrible new ballot measure in California:

A former Facebook executive wants to outdo Google by linking an anti-whore campaign to an expansion of the number of people condemned to “sex offender” registration:  “Facebook’s former chief privacy officer is bankrolling an anti-human trafficking ballot measure that…would toughen penalties for sex trafficking and add those convicted of the crime to the state’s sex offender registry.  Most significantly, it also would require all registered offenders to surrender their “Internet identifiers” to law enforcement, including user names and email accounts…Chris Kelly…has contributed $1.6 million to the initiative since December…”  The campaign is based largely on lies such as “Every girl sold on the street today is also being sold on the Internet”, a triple-whopper which 1) equates performing a service with chattel slavery; 2) uses passive voice to imply girls do not choose prostitution when in fact over 86% do; and 3) bizarrely defines 25% as “every”.

Well, thanks to information provided to me by the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLERP), I’ve discovered that Proposition 35 (its official designation) is even worse than I had initially thought.  Not only does it do everything I described above, it also greatly expands the number of offenses (and, shockingly, non-offenses) considered as “human trafficking”.  Take a look at last Tuesday’s column again and you’ll start to get the picture.  First off, it redefines “pimps” as “human traffickers”, then defines “pimp” so broadly that parents, adult children, roommates, spouses and landlords of prostitutes could all be charged with “human trafficking” and threatened with decades-long prison sentences and lifelong “sex offender” registration.  And that’s just a start:

…Prop 35…potentially [turns] even misdemeanor offenses dealing with prostitution, solicitation, non-marital sex, sex with minors, “sexting,” pornography [and] obscenity…into major, multi-year felonies.  One doesn’t have to think that such activities should be legal to think that they should be addressed with some sense of punishment being proportional to the crime…Prop 35 would enact the “CASE Act.”  CASE stands for “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation,” which is intended as a model law for other states to adopt.  Notice that we’ve gone from opposing “Slavery” — a pretty well-defined concept — to opposing “Sexual Exploitation,” which is a lot broader and more nebulous…rather than going after prototypical human trafficking, the law goes after the broader definition of human trafficking:  prostitution.   Proponents…[claim] Prop 35 only deals with forced prostitution…[but does not clearly define] what constitutes “force.”

…The CASE Act…[also attacks] underage sex…[it] could literally make penalties for statutory rape greater than those for violent rape…[and] is so broadly written that in the hands of aggressive police and prosecutors it could sweep illegal (but not uncommon) sexual encounters into the category of “human trafficking”…by expansively defining…terms such as “commercial sex,” “force,” and “coercion”…[for example] §6(h)(2) of the CASE Act…[defines] a “commercial sex act” as one that…occurs on account of anything of value being given or received by any person…“anything of value”…[could] include…dinner…a movie…a drink…if [the section] meant “money or its equivalent” it would say so…many sexual activities, including those involving minors, may be facilitated in part by the gift or receipt of “something of value” without being what we’d normally think of as “commercial”…

The article then goes on to explain what the act defines as “coercion”:

…Coercion includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or the provision and facilitation of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair said person’s judgment.  So sharing drugs with someone could be enough for “coercion”…for someone under 21, alcohol [might even count]…“Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all of the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.  So if a woman without many resources…feels that she has to stay in the relationship because…if she left him she would suffer psychologically or financially, that could constitute “serious harm.”  Or if a high school junior dating a high school senior is worried about breaking up because of the prospect that he will tell others at school that she was performing oral sex on him, that also counts as “serious harm”…

And remember, if these things are “crimes” no complainant is necessary, any more than it is for “domestic violence” now:

…you could now be arrested on suspicion of “human trafficking”; it doesn’t have to be something that your partner demands…Now, you’re looking at a prospect of many years in jail, having to register as a sex offender, having to notify the government every time you create a new internet account…and more…Let’s say the prosecutor comes to you and says “OK, we’re willing to put aside the human trafficking charge if you’ll plead guilty to this misdemeanor” (“which we otherwise couldn’t prove,” the prosecutor will not add.)  What are you going to do?…

That last is, of course, the clincher.  The hopelessly naïve are fond of saying “but they won’t use the law that way!” despite the demonstrable fact that police and prosecutors don’t ever hesitate to use laws any way they want to in order to “get” whomever they target, for whatever reason they choose.  And they never, ever allow trivialities like “truth” or “justice” to get in their way.

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