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Archive for November 15th, 2012

O God, protect me from my friends, that they have not power over me.
Thou hast giv’n me power to protect myself from thy bitterest enemies.
  –  William Blake

As I pointed out in “So Close and Yet So Far”, “the allies of sex workers [often] make arguments that, though well-meant and partially correct, contain some glaring flaw that spreads disinformation, undermines the work of other advocates or, in the worst cases, actually cedes ground to the enemy.”  But every once in a while one of these allies says something so wrong, so completely off-base, offensive and counterproductive, that I just want to slap her and suggest she join the prohibitionists because at least that way, her statements would be properly seen as attacks.  Allow me to illustrate:  someone “tweeted” a link to this article just a little while after I read the news that the ACLU was joining with the EFF to challenge one narrow section of California’s odious Proposition 35, and given its headline (“ACLU supports decriminalizing prostitution”) I dared to hope for a few seconds that the venerable civil rights organization was at long last perhaps going to start caring more about the persecution of over 450,000 women and almost 30 million men than about straining after gnats or encouraging the petty bean-counting of upper-middle-class white women.  Silly me.

If one consenting adult pays another consenting adult for sex, “it’s not the government’s business,” said Barbara Keshen, an attorney for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.  But the government doesn’t see it that way.  Known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution remains illegal in 49 states, with Nevada the exception…

It’s all downhill from that first sentence, which is instantly followed by a statement which relies on a confirmation bias to make decriminalization seem like a weird idea, and the listed “exception” actually isn’t one!  American prostitution law is not remotely representative of the Western world; imagine the difference in the reader’s mind had this sentence expressed the truth:  “Though many activities around it are restricted or criminalized in different countries, prostitution itself is legal in every populous Western nation, with the United States the only exception”.  Furthermore, the Nevada system is not even close to decriminalization; in fact, it’s the most narrow and restrictive legalization system in the world, so close to criminalization it can barely be differentiated from it, and not one single sex worker rights group supports it.  But the reporter is a typical member of a profession now dominated by credulous halfwits, so her ignorance is no surprise; I expect better from a civil rights lawyer.

…”I think it’s unfortunate that some women are forced into the situation of prostitution by economic and other situations,” Keshen said.  “But making them criminals is not the right answer”…The ACLU…opposes any state regulation of prostitution…[between] consenting adults.  “Prostitution laws violate the right of individual privacy, because there are penal sanctions for private sexual contact between consenting adults, whether it’s for recreation or money…it’s not the government’s business unless someone gets hurt.”  Keshen said the ACLU also backs decriminalizing prostitution because “the laws represent a direct form of discrimination against women…generally the women are stigmatized and penalized, while generally the male customers are not.”

That first sentence was my first sign that Keshen is nothing more than an exceptional parrot with a law degree; it is patently obvious that she has a neofeminist view of sex work and imagines that everyone who does it is “forced” (she states this explicitly at the end of the article).  It’s also clear that she has no real personal commitment to the concept of decriminalization, because once she gets beyond the boilerplate “privacy” rationale she has no freaking idea of what else to say, and even spouts a typical argument used by Swedish model proponents!  The next part of the article quotes the typical pompous ignoramuses with titles, vomiting out the usual filthy anti-whore slander:

…Portsmouth Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald said…prostitution often goes hand-in-hand with illicit drug use and other crimes, while traveling prostitutes tend to have security guards who can pose a threat to local officers.  That sentiment is shared by…Rockingham County Attorney [James Reams]…”Classically, people involved with prostitution are also involved with drugs, guns and other crime”…Reams [also] said…the state of Nevada “banished” legalized prostitution to rural areas, at so-called ranches, which have been studied over the years.  “Former prostitutes have said it’s akin to slavery,” he said.  “They all complain about the way they were treated, and I think that’s pretty troubling”…

FYI:  I’ve never heard of a single touring escort who travels with “security guards”; how could she possibly afford it?  MacDonald is the typical semi-literate cop who gets his information from other cops, but Reams has no excuse; if he’s intellectually able to comprehend the studies of Nevada brothels he’s also capable of understanding that legalization is nothing like decriminalization and of reading methodologically-sound studies that refute his “whore as criminal” mythology.  But since that would mean thinking critically about the status quo, it ain’t gonna happen.  In fact, he purposefully mentions the buzzword “slavery”, so you just know what’s coming next:

…state Rep. Laura Pantelakos said she understands why some would want to decriminalize prostitution between consenting adults, but said…”it runs into a very slippery slope, which is why I think it should be kept illegal.  I would be afraid of the consequences.”  One of the consequences, she said, is the risk that minors would be sold for sex.  Even if there was a house of ill repute around the corner and they were all 21, I think you would end up with minors in there,” she said.  “The thought of a 14-year-old being forced into prostitution makes me sick to my stomach.”

Because obviously, bars have a huge problem with underage bartenders and waitresses.  Pantelakos could study the statistics from New Zealand and New South Wales if she really wanted to, but that would require bucking the currently-popular moral panic so she would rather shout “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!” instead.  She and Reams are specimens of the lowest order of moral development on Earth, the professional politician, so it isn’t surprising they prefer to lie and/or deceive themselves about sex work.  But Keshen has no such excuse, so her concluding statement is far more painful to the informed reader, and far more damaging to the cause she supposedly espouses, than any of the prohibitionist dogma chanted by the “authorities”:

…”For me, the right answer is a good education from the start, a stable family from the start,” she said.  “People don’t choose to become prostitutes.”

This moronic assertion makes it abundantly clear that Keshen has never as much as read a blog like this one, much less taken the time to read a study or {gasp!} actually talk to any sex workers, else she would know that lots of us are as educated as she is (or more so), most of us come from families as stable as anyone else’s, and the great majority of us do indeed choose our profession.  If she really wants to help, she needs to educate herself before she does any more damage to our cause; if we get many more “allies” like her, Farley and company will just be able to go on vacation and leave the work of harming sex workers to them.

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