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Archive for June, 2014

Just as the zombies so popular in recent horror films can be recognized as the people they once were, so trafficking hysteria’s congenital racism is still visible under the gangrene and grave dirt.  –  “Rooted in Racism

super cop mind probing machineIn June of 2011, my traffic hit a plateau of just over 1000 hits a day and remained there until the following January, after which it began to slowly rise again.  More accurately, it returned to the plateau it had occupied since February; most of the visitors from MRA sites which had flooded the blog in April and May apparently got bored and wandered off again, resulting in no lasting increase in readership.  The traffic wasn’t the only thing that had settled into a pattern, either; by this point my writing style read very much as it reads now, and most of the recognizable features were in place.  Though we were still eight months away from “That Was the Week That Was” (though the updates and miscellanea columns were always multi-part by then) and over a year away from “Links”, Q & A columns (though monthly rather than weekly), holiday columns (this Perils of Paulinemonth, “The Summer Solstice”), harlotographies (“Lola Montez”) and fictional interludes (“A Decent Boldness”) appeared much as they do today.  June also saw the penultimate installment of the personal biography series (“Grace”) and the precursor of what would later become the long-running “My Favorites” feature.

Minoan priestessBy June, I had fully developed the hybrid column which has become one of my mainstays: an essay built around a quote from a current news story.  “Mind Reading”, “Perquisites”, “Full of Themselves”, “Public Service Announcement” and “If It Were Legal” are all examples of this genre, as are “Because We Say So” and “Delicious Poison”; the latter two are also among my first to cover Asian topics, an expansion specifically requested by Asian readers.  Another international column was “Down Under”, which examined a strong criticism of the Swedish model by the Queensland Prostitution Licensing Authority; quotes in that post from the startlingly bizarre Sheila Jeffreys inspired “In Their Own Words”, which put the madness of girls with can telephoneneofeminists on display.  It’s not at all unusual for one column to inspire another in that way; for example, the sheer badness of the first book reviewed in “New Reviews for June” spurred me to pore over the excellent Whores in History again, after which I wrote “Whores in History Revisited”, an extended review.  That research in turn inspired me to write “Dirty Whores”, and passages I read during that writing inspired “Déjà Vu” and “Rooted in Racism”.

Rounding out the month were “Handy Figures”, a compilation of linked numbers which I only recently revised; “Blasphemy”, in which I explain that neofeminism is a religion; “Speaking in Prostitute”, an exploration of the way sex workers’ assumptions conflict with those of amateurs; “Here Comes the Groom”, a look at bachelor parties; and “A False Dichotomy”, a deconstruction of the artificial “happy hooker/trafficked slave” dichotomy popular among sex workers fighting “sex trafficking” hysteria. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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I…am a human, born in Oklahoma, and obtained and continue to fully meet the requirements to serve as U.S. Representative.  –  Timothy Ray Murray

A good collection of links this week, if one takes “good” to mean “painful”.  Well, they’re not all painful, but one could wish for a lower proportion.  The first video (via Jae) is a short film of amateurs being kind of cute, and the second (via Kevin Wilson) is a parody of it.  Kevin also provided all the links above the first video, and those between the videos were contributed by Thaddeus RussellViolet BlueNun YaRadley BalkoPopehatWalter Olson,  Rick HorowitzClarissaNeil Gaiman and  (in that order).

From the Archives

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 The left-right divide might be a division between social identities based on class or region or race or gender, but it is certainly not a clash between different political ideas.  –  Crispin Sartwell

Reading Between the Lines

FBI myth: crack experts at hunting dangerous criminals.  FBI truth: lazy pickers of low-hanging fruit:  “…The Grand Junction [Colorado] Police Department…and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gathered evidence at [four] massage parlors…on possible human trafficking and prostitution…”  Here’s the FBI press release; note that they’ve realized huge numbers of sex worker arrests make them look bad, so they only provide figures for underage workers arrested (under the  euphemism “recovered”) and men (probably mostly male sex workers) accused of being “pimps”.  If the proportions hold from previous operations, over 2000 adult sex workers were arrested in all.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

This is especially hilarious given the location:  “Authorities…say they’ve arrested…Phoenix police officer…John Geroulis…as part of a multi-agency undercover operation targeting human trafficking and prostitution…the 25-year veteran suddenly retired [the next morning].”  But this one is even more so:

A sheriff’s deputy and SWAT team member in Washington state was arrested…Darrion Holiwell…physically abused his wife and promoted her as an escort on…backpage.com.  He is also charged with using and distributing steroids, and with stealing thousands of pounds of brass and bullets from the police firing range and selling them to gun shops…

It Looks Good On Paper

I get that the writer is a “feminist” rather than a journalist, but surely the New York Daily News has editors qualified to recognize an incoherent mess when they see it:

The world is awaiting the return of nearly 300 Nigerian girls abducted from their school…girls as young as 14…are a familiar sight in the sex trade.  Demand is so great that traffickers not only import women from abroad, but target…American kids…Brianna [was]…kidnapped…by a school janitor at the age of 9, she was sold to a pimp…The bill she is championing creates the crime of…buying a child for sex…

Change a Few Words

Note how little you’d have to change in this excerpt from the first draft of Radley Balko’s book to make it about the war on whores:

…Nixonians…pushed the idea that drug use was connected to crime…They took their…absurd estimate of heroin addicts…multiplied it by another absurd figure—the amount of money the administration estimated the typical heroin junkie spent each year to get high…then capped off the equation with a third faulty assumption: that heroin addicts steal all of the money…The resulting figures, which seemed to increase with each reiteration of them, were several times larger than the total amount of property stolen in the entire country…Nixon’s top aides themselves didn’t believe their own bull…They were knowingly lying to bring the country along on a drug war.  The press jumped in with sensational stories to help dehumanize the drug offenders…

Pick a Color

It’s such a pleasure to see someone admit this in the mainstream media:

…the left-right axis…is conceptually confused, ideologically tendentious, and…infested by contradictions…the idea that…political and economic power…can be pulled apart and set against each other…is…obviously false, because hierarchies tend to coincide…  corporate capitalism has always completely depended on state power, and the basic practical thrust of left statism has always been annexation of the economyThe…robber-baron period is often held to have been…[eventually]  constrained…by the state [but] the…procedures employed by [industrialists]…depended fundamentally on state sponsorship and state violence…in the so-called Progressive Era…specific cartels and fortunes were compromised, [but] the consolidation…continued, as…government became the central bank…and the modern bureaucratic corporation emerged…the…spectrum stretches from authoritarianism on…one end to authoritarianism on the other, with authoritarianism…between…Instead of left and right, we should be thinking about vertical versus horizontal arrangements of power and wealth.

Yellow Fever Pimp City

Jezebel swallows the “trafficking town” myth like a big, slimy…

In an extensive investigative series called Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade, Fusion explores Tenancingo, Mexico, a town that makes virtually its entire living from sex trafficking…According to the documentary…”women are actually a commodity to be used over and over and over again…a pimp can make half a million dollars a year with three women working for him, each seeing an average of 20 clients a day, each for 15 minutes”…

In case you didn’t know, Fusion is a site attempting to position itself as the sleaziest organ in the yellow corpus, like an unfunny Weekly World News.

Number Puzzle

…the Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking...recommends…to register individuals as victims more frequently, regardless of if there is an indication of actual trafficking…she acts as if the false positives …are not a big deal…we’re making reports…of situations that have nothing to do with human trafficking, which is making our data completely meaningless…only 2% of the so-called victims want help…[laws] make it impossible for…a sex worker to arrange [travel or visa] for…yourself, but if you get help then that’s called trafficking…Having a guard is seen as suspect, having lots of friends, too, and also having few friends…[even] if an agent…“feels” that it’s trafficking…that’s [enough]…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #312)

…mayor…Tri Rismaharini…announced the closure of the “Dolly” prostitution complex in [Surabaya]…hundreds of prostitutes and others who said their livelihoods depend on the sex trade blocked streets…in protest…The government plans to provide $425 to each of about 1,500 sex workers to help them start a new life…

Sex workers have defiantly vowed the district will remain open despite the edict.

Under Every Bed 

One day, we’re going to look back on all this and laugh.  All of us, that is, except people rotting for decades in prison on bogus “sex trafficking” charges.

…”The truckers…of Montana have partnered with us to put…human trafficking awareness posters on their trucks,” said…Attorney General Tim Fox. “The truckers move all across the country, they’re in…a lot of places that human trafficking might take place…We’ve had…young girls…trafficked out of Montana…and…into Montana.  Even right here in Billings…because…we’re…in the intersection of I-90 and I-94″…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Manon Lescaut

I welcome ugly bandwagon-jumping like this because it hastens the day when the public is utterly sick of “sex trafficking” nonsense:

There are few things in opera more depressing than watching great singers struggling in the face of an obstructive and pretentious production.  Yet alas that is the case with the Royal Opera’s first presentation of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut for more than 30 years.  Jonathan Kent…opts for a contemporary setting in which wide-eyed Manon arrives – from eastern Europe? – with her pimp of a brother at a sleazy casino and becomes the fluffy mistress of a banker.  He forces her into soft porn…and then kicks her into sex-traffic hell…Puccini creates an atmosphere of lush melancholy romance, but Kent can interpret it all only in terms of today’s headlines…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #318)

It’s time once again for the pompous, asinine, methodology-free “Washington is the World’s Daddy” report (AKA the “Trafficking in Persons” Report), in which the US State Department presumes to judge and rank how every other country “deals with” an imaginary problem defined into existence by American prudishness and “analyzed” chiefly by how closely that country apes American anti-whore brutality.  Canadian prohibitionists are happy to cite the report this year in order to shore up their criminalization crusade, but New Zealand has no such agenda and therefore told Uncle Sam where he could stick his demeaning “report card”:

…The US State Department Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report…criticised New Zealand’s lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and recommended New Zealand’s legal framework be expanded to prohibit and punish all forms of human trafficking…The report [included evidence-free accusations]…of…children…subjected to street prostitution…[and infantilized Asian] women…at risk of coerced…prostitution…[Immigration Minister Michael] Woodhouse said all allegations of human trafficking were investigated, but none had resulted in substantiated evidence…

The Naked Emperor (TW3 #324)

In which danah boyd takes a few more steps toward the light:

…journalists and the public reify a Hollywood narrative of what trafficking is supposed to look like — innocent young girl abducted from happy, healthy, not impoverished home with loving parents and then forced into sexual acts by a cruel older man…the…reality…is much darker and implicates many more people in power…many youth…are not pimped…[they] begin trading sex for basic services — food, shelter, protection…when it comes to minors, most anti-trafficking advocates and government actors argue that it’s all trafficking.  Except when that label’s not convenient…

Magic Formulae

Most of this vile article glorifies the FBI’s pogrom against consenting adults under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”, but this section needs to be pasted to the foreheads of every whore who believes in magic formulae:

…At least two of the women inquired…whether the supposed client was in fact a police officer…[one] woman…“did a cop check” on the officer and then said, “Okay, I just want to make sure you‘‍re not a cop.”  Undercover detectives agreed to a price…and exchanged the money — usually it had to be placed on a bedside table or television, as the women refused to handle the money directly.  The detectives then signaled for back-up, and detectives and agents swarmed the room…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #326)

Jesse Friedman…filed a defamation suit against Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for knowingly publishing false and defamatory statements in a report summarizing her review of Friedman’s 1988 conviction…In one example, DA Rice made the entirely fabricated claim that Jesse Friedman “wrote, possessed and distributed” shocking pornography involving incest, bestiality, and child rape while he was in prison.  The DA provided as proof a printout of a series of…stories…[from] the Internet, written by and credited to someone else, whose email address appears at the bottom with an invitation to contact her.  As the DA was well aware, Jesse Friedman was incarcerated at a maximum-security prison, and had no access to the Internet…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (All Traffick, All the Time)

How low can they go?  “[Cop] Adam Kavanaugh…said…'[a sex worker] is a person who has been victimized and probably raped at age 8 if not earlier’…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

While I’m happy to see political conservatives calling for decriminalization, I have to wonder why Tom Flanagan can’t see the moral panic is already well underway:

…Perhaps the most alarming thing about Bill C-36 is its potential to reunite the coalition of radical feminists, social conservatives, and law-enforcement authorities that gave us the triple moral panic of the 1980s over imaginary sexual abuse of children…I hope we’re not seeing a new moral panic over prostitution, but the signs are worrisome.  Conservative MPs are talking darkly about pimps in schoolyards.  The Minister of Justice has started to create a new class of folk devils by calling the customers of prostitutes “perverts”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #424) 

I do keep telling you so.World Cup 2014 logo

…The World Cup is supposed to be good for sex workers’ wallets…But…sex workers aren’t having an easy time of things at Brazil 2014…with sex workers allegedly pushed out of their usual haunts by police looking to crack down…it’s…more difficult for the workers to find clients.  And when they do, the…crowd isn’t quite as imagined.  “They came here all dirty, thinking we are obligated to go out with them…They…get drunk and won’t spend money with us,” [one sex worker] said…

Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #425) 

Matthias Lehmann, who studied Korean sex workers’ situations for several years, has some choice words for that “sex working grandmothers” story:

…Lucy Williamson…leaves out the police almost entirely…and…fails to mention the…[government’s offer] to pay…rewards of up to one hundred million won (US$98,000) for tip-offs about prostitution activities…Williamson also omits that…South Korea’s constitutional court is mulling over the constitutionality of the country’s anti-prostitution law…

Cooties

Note the weird dehumanization of sex workers by calling them “networks”:

Swedish police have issued warnings that it’s increasingly common for prostitutes to rent apartments for work…”The better the hotel personnel get in seeing prostitution, the more unwilling these networks are to stay in the hotels” [said creepy cop Simon] Häggström [who] added that the number of rented apartments where prostitution occurs is minimal, but still “tragic”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on May 25th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Though human beings have developed a highly technological society based on scientific principles, the great majority of them are still immersed in magical thinking.  I don’t merely mean a few irrational beliefs which we recognize as irrational; everyone, including the most die-hard skeptics, have such beliefs, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we recognize them as irrational and proceed accordingly.  What is not harmless, however, is basing laws and policies on primitive superstitions such as the idea that inanimate objects can be evil, that talismans or inscriptions can grant power over others or turn evil actions into good ones, and that innocuous actions which violate cultural taboos can render a person ritually impure.  Many of the systemic evils of modern societies (such as the drug war, censorship and police brutality) spring from one or more of these beliefs, and the “taboo” principle is the source of most of the harmful laws and social stigma surrounding sex work.  But today I’d like to discuss another magical belief, the principle of contagion, and demonstrate how it generates some truly bizarre and harmful discrimination against sex workers.

The principle of contagion is the one which underlies most sympathetic magic; it is the belief that once an object has been in contact with something or someone, it is forever affected by that thing.  This is why old-style barber shops in New Orleans used to offer to put newspaper on the floor to catch one’s cut hair; superstitious people feared allowing the clippings to come into the possession of an enemy, who might use it to inflict harm via black magic.  Similarly, relics of saints are believed to share in the saint’s holiness.  It is this belief which underlies the absurd behavior I mock as fear of “sex rays”:

The dirtier and more “illicit” the sex, the more intense the sex rays …BDSM and swinging  produce concentrations that can contaminate surrounding objects, and sex work produces such intense levels that sex workers cannot be allowed near children ever again for the rest of their lives.   Even objects we handle  (including money and virtual objects such as emails) must be kept far away from “children” (including young adults), and the danger is so great that kids inadvertently exposed to the dreaded rays must be quarantined from other kids…

sketch of possibly-imaginary parasites by Dr. Michel Ettmuller (1682)But it isn’t only children who are believed to be harmed by the contaminating touch of harlots; adult human beings in the 21st century actually behave as though commercial sex inflicts some magical taboo radiation into bedclothes and other surroundings, while amateur sex does not.  Nobody is disturbed by the knowledge that any hotel bed one occupies has previously been shagged in by complete strangers, but apparently sex workers carry pernicious and undetectable cooties which we deposit everywhere we work, and which cannot be removed from bedding without washing it in holy water and soap made from the fat of virgin lambs:

The owner of budget hotels in…[England] has admitted prostitutes have used his properties…Tony Burlingham…said he was taking action to tackle the issue, but said the law made it hard for hotel owners to do so…“One in five hotel bedrooms have got a prostitute in them.  Police have taken the crime off the street and have moved it into [hotels]”…selling sex behind closed doors is legal, as is buying sex…“What we have done is turned the internet off and have put car park restrictions on”…He said switching off the internet aimed to stop prostitutes in his rooms [going online]…and…limiting the number of cars would prevent pimps from parking in the car park…

For now, let’s just ignore the absurdity of calling sex work a “crime” in one sentence while admitting it isn’t in the next; let’s just wonder how any sane, modern adult believes that sex for pay in a hotel room is somehow intrinsically different from “free” sex in the same room.  The principle of contagion is even more obvious in this story about Airbnb, a website which allows people to rent their homes to strangers for short periods of time.  A person would have to be hopelessly naïve to imagine that none of these renters ever have sex in their beds, yet when money is exchanged for the exact same activity we get this:

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

They replaced her belongings…why, exactly?  Because of contamination by sex rays or malignant magical microorganisms, obviously.  The story (or others like it) inspired this incredibly loathsome scheme:

…The landlords of swanky Manhattan buildings are hiring private investigators to smoke out tenants who use Airbnb to illegally rent rooms – including to prostitutes and drug users…investigators respond to ads featured on the online home-sharing service…[then] gather evidence — including photos, receipts and copies of keys — to [enable] landlords [to] evict [them]…Landlords [supposedly] hire the private investigators after [busybody neighbors] complain…about…unfamiliar visitors in the building…[Vincent] Parco also uses a team of attractive women — who sometimes pose as hookers — to catch the…tenants…It’s illegal for tenants in New York to rent out apartments while they’re not on the premises…

bed cootiesWhen this story broke, some sex workers questioned why it was necessary for the hired rats to pose as honest sex workers, if any subletting is illegal.  The reason, of course, is whore stigma; if the fake renter was pretending to be a sweet, virginal secretary, a judge might side with the tenant against the sleazy, spying landlord and his hired snoops.  But let the fake pretend to be a whore and all sympathy goes out the window; after all, no measure is too extreme to prevent filthy strumpets from contaminating real people’s beds with their invisible cooties.

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Every civilization when it loses its inner vision and its cleaner energy, falls into a new sort of sordidness, more vast and more stupendous than the old savage sort.  An Augean stable of metallic filth.  –  D.H. Lawrence

bagasse moundsI grew up in an area of south Louisiana whose primary industry (in those days) was sugar production; one of the places we used to play was in a sugarcane field near our street, and from the late 19th century until the 1960s the majority of the area’s population worked for a large sugar refinery.  Once the sugar-bearing juice has been extracted from the cane, the remaining vegetable matter is called bagasse; it can be burned to generate power and is also used for an agricultural fertilizer.  But as you can imagine, it has a powerful odor, and the vast heaps of bagasse which are piled up in holding areas look and smell a lot like huge mountains of manure after sitting for a while in the damp Louisiana climate.

That was the image which entered my mind unbidden when I read this article  almost two months ago.  Like bagasse or manure, there is absolutely nothing new in it; it’s the end result of other processes, piled up in a 3000-word mound (and this is only part two!) and reeking to high heaven.  And like those vegetable waste products, this type of filth is also very useful as fertilizer; unfortunately, the only crop it works on is the unwholesome one called the police state.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria is prime manure for encouraging the growth of internet censorship, mass surveillance, border control, police violence, sexual repression and state control of women’s bodies, and though humanity would be better off if these noxious weeds were exterminated, all too many “journalists” are happy to nurture them instead by generating mounds of reeking rubbish like this one:

…“The technology of…phones and…computers and everything…is also a curse because we can’t track all the places our kids go,” said Kathleen Winn…[of] Phoenix’s sex trafficking task force…“we can’t control who reaches our children.”  Social media…provides an egress for pimps into the lives of their victims, and a way for them to monitor their victims, according to…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…the Phoenix Dream Center, a task force affiliate…said…“We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…they make millions of dollars a year on their adult services ads”…

One of the most psychologically fascinating things about fanatics is that they’re so completely unable to recognize their own fanaticism, they often make statements that blatantly demonstrate it.  The freakish need to “control” every interaction adolescents (the real meaning of “children” in this context) have with other people (at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be learning how to function in adult society) is used as an excuse for schemes to “break up” internet businesses and a larger campaign to destroy the internet as we know it; this and the Luddite hysteria itself are openly avowed without any attempt to disguise them to fool non-fanatics.  I’ve noticed this about many articles (whether anti-sex, anti-migration or pro-censorship) coming out of Arizona these days; due to the process of group polarization  Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles critical of Project ROSE; even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine.  But I digress:

Two years ago…a civil case was filed…“against Backpage.com and the pimps…alleging that these kids were trafficked on Backpage.com,” said Erik Bauer, a Tacoma-based attorney…

The article ignores the fate of previous frivolous suits like this one, and of every single law designed to destroy the internet in the name of “shutting down Backpage” for “THE CHILDREN!!!!!”  It also ignores the part where a federal judge forced Washington state to pay for Backpage’s defense on the grounds that it knew the law was unconstitutional when it was enacted; instead, it promotes an anti-sex lawyer’s spurious view that sexual speech is magically different from all other forms of speech:

Bauer predicted that Backpage’s future is foggy at best.  “There are some weird legal decisions in our country, and so far they have enabled Backpage to exist and even thrive,” said Bauer. “Blatant prostitution advertising is what they are…I actually believe that Backpage’s days are numbered…We have a legal theory that works and they don’t”…

Blah blah blah pimps, blah blah children, blah “promoting prostitution”.  I find it especially interesting that the only non-Arizonan quoted at length in this dungheap is from Washington…which foams at the mouth over sex nearly as much as Arizona does.  And that’s a lot of foam:

Katie Resendiz of Arizona Training and Resources to Stop Trafficking (AZ TRUST)…said…“The hypersexualization of the youth and commodification of women’s bodies is exactly why we have a sex-trafficking crisis in the United States.  We train young boys to think of women as objects and sex as something to be purchased, and we train women to think of their bodies as purchasable”…

Another astonishing aspect of “sex trafficking” rhetoric is the repeated assertion (not limited to Arizona) that prostitution is “accepted” and “normalized” in the United States, the only developed country in which the sale of sex is itself illegal.  It requires an almost incomprehensible level of provincialism and ignorance to make such a statement, yet we see it over and over again like the tenet of faith it obviously is (often in close proximity to “prostitution is not a victimless crime”).  And just in case you needed more proof of how deeply statist “trafficking” cultists are, Resendiz delivers this gem:  “If you see something, say something, because if it looks bad, it probably is.”  The conventional wisdom is that the police state, big religion and “feminism” are all different things, and some will claim that different proponents of “sex trafficking” hysteria have different motives.  But that simply isn’t so; even if it had been true before the advent of the moral panic it certainly isn’t now, and Arizona’s fascist “trafficking” establishment is a perfect example.  Much has been written about Project ROSE’s fusion of police state, religious and “feminist” social work elements, and the “Dream Center” featured in this article is no different:

…the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the municipal sex trafficking task force affiliates…There are 183 churches in the…Dream Center’s network.  Its $2 million budget is supported…[in part] through…government programs…Classes at the center are life-recovery and spiritually based, and are taught by retired police…The organization works intimately with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…

Nor is it only streetwalkers they label as “trafficked”:

The organization is the largest strip club outreach in the region, and has handed out gifts to more than 800 women on its Phoenix route…“We have outreaches at the malls, games, concerts, and Backpage.  We’re working on the massage parlors, we will get there by 2015,” [operative Jessica] Knight said…“Whether it is a girl being trafficked…or a mom selling herself on Backpage to feed her family, we are there for them…[with] a…rescue squad that snatches the victim away from her pimp”…

Her ideas about “what sex trafficking abduction looks like” include “[letting] a person you do not know take pictures of you with their cell phone” and “kids talking to people they don’t know.”  And like Resendiz, Knight encourages adolescents to report “suspicious” people “to the proper law enforcement authorities”; after her “training”, one shudders to think how many men are being investigated by the Phoenix Stasi as “pimps”,dung critters especially given that her philosophy is “It is better to cry wolf and be wrong, than to have a friend, neighbor, or family member disappear and end up in slavery.”  Too bad for all the innocents who end up caged in Arpaio’s dungeon, I guess.

This article was a particularly large, particularly fragrant heap of prohibitionist manure, but the American journalistic landscape is dotted with them and they’re especially common in places like Arizona and Washington; puritanical control freaks are right at home in these mounds and can always be found wallowing ecstatically in their decomposing environment without as much as a clue about how they look and smell to everyone else.

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Would you care to comment on this?  “…this video…[shows] a boy [being] sexually assaulted and molested by an adult woman, to the huge entertainment of a bullying, out of control crowd.  The boy is obviously trying to go along with good humor, fear-grin plastered across his face, but as things progress it’s obvious he’s being humiliated, shamed, and disturbed over sexual behavior he doesn’t fully understand, and being mocked the whole time for it…

inappropriate lap dance(Readers can watch the video at the link if they like, but it isn’t necessary to follow my response).  As you probably know, I vehemently oppose characterizing adolescents of either sex as “children”; it’s hard to tell the boy’s age from that video, but I’d guess he’s in puberty rather than pre-pubescent, and therefore not a “child”.  And if he’s not a “child”, that can’t be “child molestation”, Q.E.D.  Furthermore, I consider the criminalization of every possible transgression to be a smoothly-paved road to totalitarianism; there are at least five distinct levels of offense, of which criminality is the most serious.  When one uses a legalistic term like “child molestation”, one is at least strongly implying (if not outright stating) that one believes state violence would be an appropriate response to the situation; I do not agree that sending a goon squad to beat, chain, humiliate, cage and ostracize that woman for life would be an appropriate response to her offense.

Next, we have to consider the principle of harm reduction.  No matter how much prudes and child cultists wish to pretend otherwise, the evidence is that adult-adolescent sexual contact usually has few if any long-term effects; as I wrote three years ago, “most of the trauma associated with sexuality involving minors derives not from some mystical property of sex itself, but from the considerable fuss adults make over it when it is discovered (including endless invasive and uncomfortable interviews with creepy strangers asking highly personal questions), not to mention guilt over getting someone else in trouble”.  When I was gang-raped by three cops (which I’m sure you will admit was a far more egregious violation of my person than what we see in this video) I did not report it because “from my viewpoint the rape could last an hour and be over except for nightmares and flashbacks, or I could let lawyers and judges and cops subject me to a waking nightmare, a slow-motion rape that might go on for months or years.”  Some people who have been raped or sexually assaulted want to go through the legal process in order to gain closure, exact vengeance or attempt to protect others from violation, while others do not; it is nobody’s business which the victim chooses but his or her own.  Even full-out aggravated rape is not the end of the world, and non-violent sexual humiliation far less so; in the case of the boy in the video, the emotional and psychological damage from a protracted criminal prosecution would be vastly greater than any he experienced during this episode, and to what end?  To please adults whose sensibilities were offended, or who just have an axe to grind?  I think not.

axe to grindThen there’s the issue of projection.  As a side-effect of empathy, human beings have the unfortunate tendency to project their own emotions onto other people; we ask ourselves, “how would I feel in that situation?”  When it helps us to connect to others, to view their hurts as serious and their needs as worthy of consideration, it is a good and positive thing.  But when it causes a person to overrule the statements or wishes of the other, to say, “no, you’re wrong, you don’t feel that way because I would feel differently in your place”, or to demand state violence be inflicted on someone against the wishes of the actual victim, that is a horse of an entirely different color.  It’s fine for you to say, “I would be humiliated and upset if I were in that boy’s place”, or even “I believe that boy was absolutely mortified and traumatized”.  It is not fine, however, for his parents to demand retribution unless he wants it himself, and it is tyrannous for the state to demand such retribution on the grounds that the “victim” is state property.  Moreover, it is absolutely outrageous for uninvolved strangers to demand such retribution against the victim’s wishes on the grounds that it made them uncomfortable; that is the basis for virtually all prohibitionism, and thus a moral and social abomination.

I believe that what that woman did was probably wrong (in a moral sense) and certainly inappropriate; since I know nothing about the people involved I cannot say anything else for certain.  If I had been there I would have put a stop to it, but since no responsible person did we are left with nothing but a very limited amount of information…far too little to ruin two lives over.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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McNeillFlyerLast Tuesday I mentioned that I would be speaking at UNLV, and that on the following day I’d be meeting back up with my traveling companion.  But I omitted two words from the latter phrase: “in Denver”.  And thereby hangs a tale of woe.  My presentation went just fine, and had my bus trip gone just as well this would’ve been a very short column; alas, that was not to be.  I was rather proud of myself for efficiently compacting my luggage and for not getting angry when it was announced that the bus had been ridiculously overbooked, which meant I had to wait thirteen hours for the next one.  I was also quite pleased when the hotel clerk cheerfully let me back into my room even though I had technically checked out, and rather enjoyed the large diner breakfast I decided to have so I wouldn’t need to eat dinner en route; the fact that I would not need to book a hotel in Denver Wednesday night also appealed to my sense of thrift.  And that concludes the list of good things I can say about the journey.

The bus left the depot 45 minutes late and was absolutely packed solid, and it’s a good thing I’m used to being in close quarters with strange men because my seatmate was built like a professional wrestler and overlapped my seat by a noticeable amount.  The promised on-bus wi-fi turned out to be a lie; my computer connected to the bus, but the bus never connected to the internet for more than a few painfully-slow and highly intermittent teases.  And there was simply no way to actually sleep in that seat, no matter how I turned my head, torso and legs (though I did fitfully doze for a merciful hour here and there throughout the night).  I would’ve still considered it merely a bad trip rather than a horrible one, however, had the driver not switched the interior lights on during the approach to Grand Junction, then proceeded to execute a series of tight turns and unexpected stop-starts while I couldn’t see where we were going through the now-reflective windows.  It’s a good thing my last meal had been concluded over twelve hours earlier, or the resulting mess would’ve been a lot nastier.

That was only the beginning.  Near Vail, the highway began to twist and turn in a way no other interstate highway in the country manages to do, and needless to say I got sicker and sicker; at some point the seat came loose from its catches and began to roll forward with every deceleration and backward with every acceleration.  By the time we arrived in Denver I felt like a torture victim and probably looked like a frightened, bedraggled kitten (except not as cute).  Fortunately, reader Leonard Fahrni had volunteered to fetch me from the depot despite the early hour; had I been required to drag my own luggage to a cab stand, endure a back-seat ride to an internet cafe, then book a hotel and endure another ride to get there, I honestly don’t know if I could’ve done it.  But Leonard carried my things, drove gently to his house, waited patiently while I found a hotel with his internet and then drove me there and brought everything in again.  Who says chivalry is dead?

After that nightmare, my weekend in Denver was so anticlimactic it isn’t worth mentioning.  Tonight I’m speaking at the founding chapter of Liberty on the Rocks, then tomorrow I’m off to Wichita, Kansas on another bus – a much shorter trip, in the daytime, over nice flat country.  And I’ve already planned a long-term rental car deal for July and August so there will be no more bus trips from Hell. The Road to Hell

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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