Even after all these years reporting on the moronic garbage vomited forth by cops, politicians, “rescue” profiteers and other prohibitionists, I’m sometimes still flabbergasted by the incredible density with which these idiocies can be packed into one story. Here’s a recent example from Cheyenne, Wyoming (population approximately 60,000), which like so many small US cities is desperate to cash in on “sex trafficking” hysteria, with unintentionally-hilarious results. Instead of breaking up the article with my comments as I usually do, I’m just going to post a version edited down to highlight the stupidest parts, with footnotes below.
The market for paid sex acts here isn’t just during Cheyenne Frontier Days1…prostitution is an ongoing issue in Cheyenne, and it appears to have gone unaddressed for decades2…“One of the things we wanted to show during Frontier Days was whether or not it was associated with the Frontier Days traffic”…District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg said… “all of the johns were local; most of the girls were local…We didn’t have anybody that appeared to be coming in associated with Frontier Days”3…he came away [from a sting] shocked by what he saw4…“the amount of criminal activity going on just a few blocks from this courthouse on an otherwise bright, sunny evening with a lot of people around”5…Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak said…“We…need…to try to rescue women or adolescents and juveniles (from the sex trade)6…when you pull up Cheyenne (on sex trade websites), you can just see there is definitely a problem here that we need to address”7…Kozak said local hotel operators approached him, concerned about the crime prostitution was bringing into the community8, and he also learned from the FBI and Denver law enforcement that with intensified enforcement down there, pimps have been moving their sex workers into other areas9, 10…with less enforcement…“Our police officers here in the Cheyenne Police Department have had more training in human trafficking than the FBI agents have had,” he said11…The chief said… “it’s kind of relaxed, because we don’t want to place any trauma on the potential victim”12…John A. Cruz Jr., 23…[was accused] of offering to pay an undercover agent $150 to have sex with a fictitious 12-year-old boy described in an online advertisement as “young and eager”13…Even though no children have been rescued from sex trafficking in Cheyenne, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening here14…“Definitely you could tell from the traffic online that there is some desire here to have sex with a minor, which is disgusting and definitely something we want to intervene in,” Kozak said15…it’s extremely difficult to get prostitutes to disclose whether they’re involved in sex trafficking, but most are and are just too fearful of their pimps to speak up16…Sandburg said… “once you build that rapport with them, they’re more likely to…open up to you about the fact that they are part of sex trafficking”17…Sandburg said the image of the “happy hooker,” or someone like the character portrayed by Julie [sic] Roberts in Pretty Woman, is much rarer now than people might think or realize18…Most times, a woman’s pimp has something they’re holding over the woman’s head…“The mother has no idea where her child is, and she is told by the pimp that she has to go do these sex acts for money, and if she doesn’t cooperate, she doesn’t get to see her kid”19…women might get to a point where they appear to be independent, willing operators…but there’s likely a pimp somewhere taking his cut20…“So it’s important for the public to realize that even though she might appear to be the ‘happy hooker,’ as it were, there’s very likely a pimp someplace, and he’s got a lot of control over her,” he said21…the Zonta Club of Cheyenne posted flyers in restrooms with contact information for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center22…Misti Fisher…said…“We live off of two highways”23…Fisher said she’s not convinced the women arrested in Cheyenne’s stings are, in fact, willing operators. “How do we really know that?” she asked24…Zonta currently is accepting entries for its third annual art contest to raise awareness of human trafficking25…Another group trying to raise awareness of human trafficking in Wyoming…is…called Gifts of Grace. The group has put together a special screening of a documentary…“The Abolitionists” follows a group of former CIA agents as they rescue children trapped within child sex slavery26…CEO Tyler Schwab…[said] “Wyoming should care about child sex trafficking because it is modern-day slavery, and it is happening closer than you think”27…
27 items is quite a tally for a long-but-not-unusually-so specimen of modern yellow journalism. Not all of the items are idiocies; some are flat-out abominations, but in the interest of clarity I’ll count them together.
1) Gypsy whores!
2) Have these people never heard the phrase “the world’s oldest profession”?
3) The capacity of politicians to pretend that being proven wrong actually means they were right is a kind of nauseating marvel.
4) An adult man “shocked” by the existence of streetwalkers needs to be confined in a rest home for his own good.
5) Only a few blocks from the courthouse! OMG, SEX RAYS!!! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!!
6) Where “rescue” = “arrest”.
7) When one defines ordinary activity as “crime”, it magically becomes a “problem”.
9) Adult women are far too stupid to drive the 100 miles from Denver to Cheyenne on our own.
10) Am I the only one who finds the juxtaposition of dysphemisms like “pimps” and “johns” with polite terms like “sex workers” hilarious, especially in an article which repeatedly denies that sex work is work?
11) If country-boy coppers in a cowtown like Cheyenne really have more hours of training than FBI agents, that sounds suspiciously like a boondoggle to me.
12) Because tricking, brutalizing, threatening & caging people for their work isn’t traumatizing.
13) For the truth about how these “fictitious minor” stings actually work, please see “Bait and Switch“. Note the age of the cops’ victim, a young gay man who was probably seeking the company of a peer.
14) “Even though no aliens have been seen landing in Cheyenne, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening here.”
15) Where “intervene in” actually means “invent”; see #13 above.
16) This is a popular, self-reinforcing, misogynistic lie; whatever a woman says is declared to be a falsehood inspired by fear of a nonexistent “pimp” who is never found. Because we’ve been known since Biblical times as timid, delicate creatures, you know.
17) Cops and prosecutors are so delusional that they actually believe they can “build rapport” with sex workers by spying on us, deceiving us, wasting our time, terrorizing us, driving our clients away, and generally disrupting our income. And that once they do so, we’ll confirm their wanking fantasies of “pimps” and “sex slaves”.
18) Admit it; you knew Pretty Woman was going to be mentioned in here. But we got a bonus; they refer to The Happy Hooker as well!
19) Some cops aren’t satisfied with the existing myths, and invent some of their own as they go along. This is the first time I’ve heard this one, but I bet it won’t be the last because others will parrot it.
20) The “invisible pimp” trope is one of the most insidiously insulting and misogynistic, because A) it’s impossible to prove a negative, and B) it wouldn’t matter if such a person existed in the first place.
21) This is Shitbag Sandburg’s attempt to negate the testimony of countless sex workers by convincing the Incredibly Stupid that every last one of us, including me, have a “pimp” hidden away somewhere “controlling” our actions while Sandburg masturbates furiously thinking about it.
22) Another iteration of the “magical bathroom sanctuary” trope.
23) Highways cause sex trafficking! End demand for them!
24) Fisher is clearly unacquainted with the concept “burden of proof“.
25) But of course it is.
26) That would be this one about a really scary paramilitary organization with CIA connections.
27) No sermon in the “sex trafficking” cult is complete without a recitation of the Profession of Faith.