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Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

The students do NOT have to eat the Oreo if they do not wish to do so.  –  Mrs. Porter

I’m slowly beginning to catch up, though I still have quite a way to go to be comfortable with my work schedule.  This week’s video was supplied by Popehat, who also provided “protect” and “Jew”; the links above the video came from Wendy Lyon  (“resistance”), Jasper Gregory (“cookie”), and Jesse Walker (“911″).

From the Archives

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Whole libraries of sex work laws have been written and enforced because lawmakers listened to nothing other than their own fears and paternalism.  –  Chris Hall

R.I.P. Sashimani Devi Sashimani Devi

Sashimani Devi, the last [devadasi]…at the Jagannath Temple in eastern India, died on March 19 in the city of Puri…She was 92…she was one of about 25 women assigned to care for Jagannath and other images of deities at the temple, conducting ritual baths, rubbing the statues with lotion and performing private songs and dances at bedtime…Sashimani…remained proud of her status until the end of her life, though she complained that temple authorities had reduced her role in temple rituals and paid her a miserly pension.  She told one interviewer who asked about the god Jagannath: “He is my husband and I am his wife.  There is no dispute about it.”  She was the last to perform a dance that had been practiced in the temple for 5,000 years…Laws criminalizing the dedication of devadasis began proliferating in the 1930s, and elite temples like Jagannath began to turn away from the practice, though “thousands and thousands” of devadasis are dedicated, to this day, at smaller temples throughout India…

Here We Go Again

Chris Hall looks at the connection between the belief in snuff films and the belief in “sex trafficking”:

Of all the myths about porn, sex and crime to get a footing in popular culture, the belief in snuff films is one of the most improbable, yet enduringly resilient.  For decades, journalists, politicians, law enforcement officials, and anti-porn crusaders talked about snuff films as if their reality had been as firmly documented as the address of the White House….[despite the fact that] no actual snuff films have ever been found…snuff movie hysteria is just a single link in a very long chain of moral panics around sex and sex work which stretches back centuries…the myths of white slavery and snuff films…depicted vast networks of deliberate, organized evil preying on society’s most innocent.  There are actual videos of murders by serial killers or terrorists, but…a true snuff film would be one where the victim is specifically kidnapped and murdered in order to make the film and distribute it through a vast, secret criminal network.  Similarly, white slavery would necessarily involve a nightmarish web of kidnappers and pimps working cohesively in a well-organized criminal subculture…the existence of snuff films and white slavery would reveal a shadowy, near-omnipotent “other” infiltrating respectable society…

Above the Law 

A…New York [City cop]…has been charged with multiple counts of rape related to a sexual relationship he’s alleged to have maintained with a teen girl more than 20 years his junior…38-year-old Vladimir Sosa…was arrested in the Bronx [after the girl]…confessed to her mother about the relationship last month…

The Notorious Badge 

Here’s an amusing example of prohibitionists’ obsession with the film Pretty Woman:  On its 25th anniversary, a “sex trafficking” fetishist publishes a letter asking Richard Gere to espouse the “end demand” creed of the “sex trafficking” religion and denounce clients.  I am not making this up.

Hall of Shame

Mistress Matisse: “If you’ve eaten poison and need to make yourself vomit, you should watch Dennis Hof and Nancy Grace debate sex work.”  I concur; Grace is one of the few creatures who can make Hof seem less-than-wholly-vile in comparison.

Shift in the Wind

More editorials like this, please:

It is unfathomable why adults are still being prohibited by law from engaging in sex work – whether as an individual providing or receiving such services – in and outside of Jamaica.  To make matters worse, it is also illegal for you to “knowingly” benefit from the proceeds of sex work regardless of your relationship to the individual…This is preposterous….a child whose parent works tirelessly as a sex worker to send him or her to school…can, in fact, be charged for benefiting from their parents earnings from sex work….if you are the parent of a sex worker with a chronic illness such as cancer, you can be charged for allowing your daughter to pay for life-saving chemotherapy.  What would you do if the person who supports you financially is a sex worker?  Would you still feel the law is justified – that prostitution should be illegal?

Standard Operating Procedure

Yawn.  Are people still pretending this was unpredictable?

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department…In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties…The stunning allegations are part of an investigation…into claims of sexual harassment and misconduct within DEA; FBI…[ATF] and the U.S. Marshals Service…The congressional committee charged with federal oversight is already promising hearings and an investigation…

“Stunning”. LOL! Prostitute tester advert

Sex Work is Work

A brothel is advertising what many would consider a dream job: prostitute tester.  The job entails rating sex workers for overall quality, cleanliness, value for money, and safe sex practices.  The advert by the Berlin brothel…reads:  “Practical experience with many years of brothel visits necessary.  You should enjoy having fun with people and you should not be afraid of contact.”  Ideal candidates for the position would hold a university degree (preferably in business), have experience with brothels, and be able to show a health certificate indicating they are disease-free…a multilingual individual is desired, with knowledge of French a plus…

Torture Chamber 

[Florida prison guards] contaminated inmates’ food, sprayed them with chemicals for no reason and threatened to break their fingers and to kill them…These practices flourished under former Warden Samuel Culpepper…inmates…said they were stripped naked or down to their boxers at the whim of guards and had all their belongings and their mattresses taken away, then left around the clock on a cold metal bunk for 72 hours or more…[where] they would shiver, cold and petrified, waiting to be gassed…guards would sometimes heat up the gas canisters before activating them, making the chemicals more potent and stick more stubbornly to inmates’ skin…

Bait and Switch

Here’s a long, detailed account of how an ordinary man was tricked and railroaded by cops and prosecutors, his life destroyed for their profit:

…he believed she was nineteen, and he adamantly denied at all times that she looked underage.  He…thought she was lying about her age to try to get more money from him.  It took cops almost half an hour of merciless interrogation and lie after lie to get something even arguably incriminating out of him.  They kept telling him about how he tried to have sex with “that girl” who was sixteen.  When he asked why they were fixated on the fake age of a fake escort, the police report noted that as him seeing no problem with the age of sixteen…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#452)

For a change, many outside the demimonde recognize anti-whore douchebaggery for what it is:

All sex workers are trafficking victims who desperately want out of the industry.  That’s the premise…of the new A&E show 8 Minutes, which is slated to premiere April 2….vigilante pastor (and former cop) Kevin Brown…sets up dates with sex workers, only to ambush them with attempts at rescue instead of payment—all filmed, hidden camera-style.  The…series has been called “awful” by the Daily Beast, while VICE referred to Brown and the series creators as “manipulators seeking out women for their own gain.”  A Change.org petition…garnered just under 2,000 signatures.  And…even local law enforcement condemned his methods…But none of this criticism has deterred A&E from airing the show…[so] about two dozen…groups that work with…sex workers signed a letter demanding a meeting with Tom Forman, the producer…

Worse Than I Thought (#524)

We can always count on Elizabeth N. Brown:

…the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act” (JVTA)…was [stalled]…by party-line disagreement over an abortion-funding provision.  Thank goodness.  This is one time that lawmakers using abortion as a political tool may actually be a boon for civil liberties…One should always be skeptical when politicians insist on new laws to target things that are already targets…it belies efforts to grant government agencies new powers and more money without people paying much attention…One under-looked but worrisome aspect of the bill would set up several cybercrime-fighting units within the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement…By conflating all prostitution with sex trafficking, organizations that receive federal anti-trafficking grants can use it to go after prostitution more generally — something conservative rescue-orgs like because it fits their anti-prostitution agenda and police departments like because they can now use this money toward existing vice efforts.  And the more arrests and/or “rescues” they make, the more money they get…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on February 22nd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

wood splitting wedgeAs I’ve written many times, tyranny always starts with unpopular minorities, but it absolutely never stops with them.  Every time a new kind of law, legal procedure or police tactic is dreamed up by those with the sick need to control others, it is invariably tested first on some group that the “authorities” know few others will defend; then by the time it’s expanded to the general population, it’s much too late to do anything about it.  For example, US surveillance methods which were first excused as being necessary to uncover “terrorists” were quickly expanded to drug investigations, then to the entire population (as Edward Snowden revealed); similarly, the license-plate readers which were first used in the Drug War and “end demand” operations against sex workers’ clients were recently revealed to be employed in vast numbers to build a nationwide database of all automobiles.  Last year, I explained how men were being arrested for talking to a computer program intended to trick them into thinking it was a young girl, and in Florida and Arizona huge police operations (with cops in place of the program) have predatorily arrested hundreds of men whose only “crime” was looking for women their own age on dating sites.  In the UK, an internet censorship regime which was sold to the public in the name of “protecting children” from “extreme porn” is now being used to block anything some government official decides he doesn’t want the public to see.  And “asset forfeiture” proceedings, which were first touted as weapons against “drug lords”, are now being used to rob ordinary people who have done absolutely nothing wrong of their cash, cars and even real estate.

“Sex trafficking” has proved a bonanza for those who wish to install ever-greater tyranny without the slightest opposition from the populace; besides the increased surveillance, expanded asset seizure and new laws that criminalize ordinary behaviors, fanatical politicians are working to entirely destroy the internet as we know it by subjecting website owners and operators to criminal charges for third-party content.  And even if they fail, other nosy parkers are trying to harness the power of computers to spy on otherwise-anonymous citizens by analyzing what they post online:

…researchers have developed software that allows police departments to mine online ads offering prostitution services.  Traffic Jam gives police a rapid way to sort sex ads, spotting indirect language that may suggest sex trafficking, or grouping ads with similar language that may have been written by the same person… research analyst Emily Kennedy said more than 100 sites are commonly used in sex trafficking…

Regular readers know this is arrant nonsense; “sex trafficking” is here being used as a dysphemism for “sex work”.  Promoters of this incredibly misogynistic myth pretend that women are too asexual to choose sex for pragmatic reasons, and too stupid to place our own ads or plan our own travel; this article hilariously claims that women fly into towns “with a handler”, which is especially funny because four-year-old interviews with the same cops from the same podunk little Pennsylvania town mention no “handlers” of any kind.  These imaginary persons are almost literally pasted into the line to fit the “sex trafficking” narrative that is used to justify gross invasions of privacy.

But the aforementioned cops, who are well-known for the grotesque and evil lengths to which they will go to harass and victimize sex workers, fit right into the rogue’s gallery quoted in support of this Orwellian surveillance program; another such collective entity is the Arizona State University School of Social Work, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz’s highly-criticized factory for generating bogus prohibitionist studies and the academic leg of the awful Project ROSE.  And who, pray tell, financed the development of this data-mining program?Guinea pigs  Why, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which sunk $3.6 million into the project.  Another, similar platform was funded by the CIA.  But you just go right ahead believing that the US military-industrial complex is so very concerned with commercial sex that it’s willing to spend considerable funds just to stop people from having it; I’m sure that’s a lot more comforting than recognizing that whores are just the guinea pigs for yet another oppression that will soon be extended to everyone.

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When two consenting adults have sex behind closed doors and if money changes hands then that is none of the state’s business.  –  Laura Lee

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Police in eastern India were left red-faced when a raid on a sex district discovered four of their own along with a convicted murderer whom they were supposed to be…transporting…to hospital for a check-up…

Who Watches the Watchmen?

I’m really happy to see the media slowly growing more skeptical of ludicrous statistical claims:

…[Several news sources claimed that] “According to the FBI’s latest study, more than 58,000 kids were abducted by non-relatives in one year”…The number is derived from data collected between 1997 and 1999, mainly from a telephone survey in 1999…these numbers come from an era that predates the wide use of mobile phones, which allow parents to keep much closer track of their children…this is an estimate, based on a survey, not based on actual incidents…Two key components of the 58,000 figure are children who are reported missing by their caretakers or children who were missed by the caretaker for at least an hour but no report was filed…These incidents may meet a legal definition of “abduction” but generally do not conform to the public’s understanding of an abduction…The number of stereotypical kidnappings is significantly smaller: 115…the most recent (2014) FBI data on abductions by a stranger in a single year is 332…

Down Under

A Porirua man is facing two rare charges of failing to use a condom during sex with a prostitute.  The safe-sex law is thought to have been applied only about seven times since the Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003…Before prostitution was decriminalised, sex workers were not able to complain about clients not wanting to use condoms…[The man] said he knew the prostitute would not have consented to his taking the condom off, so he did it without her knowledge…

Tyranny By Consensus

I certainly hope you saw this coming:

Since Los Angeles County passed a 2012 law requiring all male porn performers to wear condoms, some Californians have been trying to extend the requirement throughout the state.  Legislation to this effect failed last summer, but activists are now seeking to put the matter before voters in 2016…If…Michael Weinstein gets his way, he could be subsidized by the state to sit around reviewing porn.  Under the proposed condom measure…”Weinstein would be placed in charge of monitoring any adult film produced in California to determine if condoms were used…If a condom wasn’t readily apparent in each scene, Weinstein would be deputized by the Attorney General to review the raw footage of the production, and file lawsuits against anyone involved in the production, including but not limited to the producers, distributors, agents, and anyone with a demonstrable ‘financial interest’ in the production”…To remove Weinstein from this role would require a majority vote from both houses of the state Legislature…

Under Every Bed dopedopedope

Small towns can’t credibly claim to be “sex trafficking hubs”, so they call themselves “stops” instead:

Hundreds of social workers, police officers, clinicians and concerned locals gathered…to learn about the growth of…sex trafficking in southeastern Wisconsin…the Human Trafficking Forum…explored the causes and symptoms of what they call “modern-day slavery”…Every 10 minutes, a woman or child is trafficked in the U.S, resulting in more than 15,000 victims each year*.  An official with the Department of Homeland Security…described Kenosha as a “stopping spot” between Chicago and Milwaukee…[a cop bloviated that] “Twelve and 13-year-olds are the primary target, that’s middle schoolers.  We need to get the word out to parents and teachers”…

Canadian cops are just as absurd:

…Is there human trafficking in Guelph [Ontario, population 121,668]?  “Absolutely”…[lied cop Patty] Pronovost…girls as young as 12 are exploited by pimps…classified ad sites like Backpage…are popular among prostitutes and pimps…The average age of a girl entering the sex trade is 14.  On average, they would see 10 to 15 customers each day, but 30 in one day is not uncommon…

I wish 30 clients a day really were “not uncommon”; if that were true my bank account wouldn’t be in the sorry shape it’s in.

*15,000/year = 1.7/hour = 1/35 minutes ≠ 1/10 minutes.

Challenge

My friend Laura Lee does it again:

A sex worker is using European human rights legislation to try to overturn a new law in Northern Ireland that makes it illegal to pay for prostitutes.  Dublin-born law graduate Laura Lee is launching an unprecedented legal challenge that could go all the way to Strasbourg, against a human trafficking bill which includes banning the payment for sex among consenting adults…

Traffic Jam (#439)

Nearly two years ago, Monica Jones was…arrested for prostitution during a massive police sweep.  Now, she’s in Geneva, Switzerland, taking her case to the United Nations.  The arrest in May 2013 was not the first time the cops had harassed Jones, and she fought back, successfully challenging the charges in court while rising to become an outspoken activist and a widely recognized human rights advocate.  Beating her own charges was not enough for Jones, and now she is using her story to challenge the United States’ prostitution policies on the global stage.  The UN Human Rights Council is preparing its quadrennial review of the US’s human rights record in May, and this week Jones and advocates from across the world are lobbying the council’s member countries on policy recommendations…

The Last Shall Be First (#513)

A bill that would ban transgender people from using their preferred public bathrooms has now…been amended to make an exception for some transgender people who have legally changed their gender on government documentation.  In essence, it means transgender people would need to have their papers on them to pee…[the bill’s sponsor]  claims that the ordinance would prevent male sex offenders and other perverted, unsavory characters from entering women’s bathrooms and that it’s a matter of public safety.  Of course…such incidents…are almost unheard of in other states and municipalities that have passed protections for transgender individuals…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#523) Cheetahs

The fact that money is tight and online porn free couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this; it must be video games!

Strip clubs, with flashy signs advertising nude dancers, once had a strong footing in downtown centres across Canada.  But…an adult industry insider says strip clubs are an endangered species being killed off by lack of demand…Tim Lambrinos…[said]  “It seems that young Canadian males are more distracted with other types of interests — Game Boys, plugging in things and so on”…Toronto had 63 strip clubs a decade ago, now it only has 14.  Lambrinos admits licensed clubs are plagued with the perception they are tied to crime and unsavoury characters, but…that doesn’t match with the reality.  “In terms of crime, even public complaints, the licensed adult entertainment clubs were the bottom of the list…There were nail salons and hair salons and barber shops, restaurants that got far more complaints”…

Worse Than I Thought (#523)

A new “sex trafficking” law is so bad (HOW BAD IS IT?) that at least one “anti-trafficking” NGO has denounced it:

Looking to criminalize our way out of something hasn’t worked in any other issue and won’t work here…Services shouldn’t have to push victims to cooperate with law enforcement in order to receive funding…We need to be removing children from the judicial system, not increasing their involvement…being a trafficker is a specific crime and not just a catch-all for everyone who did something wrong to a child…This bill buys into a sensationalized presentation of a complex issue, to which the criminal justice system is somehow the solution…

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Links #246

Detective Conway’s use of force was justified and commensurate for the situation.

We had to spend the night away from our place last night, and like an idiot I forgot the power cord for my laptop so I couldn’t finish this column in time!  I know this is happening more frequently than it did prior to the start of my tour last year, but I’m afraid that’s just a consequence of my far-less-settled schedule.  This week’s video is from Mike Siegel, and the links above it are from Rick HorowitzJesse WalkerJillian Keenan and Franklin Harris, in that order.

From the Archives

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Sex workers in…[current] media accounts are not people, but fever dreams, to be pitied, laughed at, hyperbolically loathed, and surreptitiously lusted after.  –  Noah Berlatsky

Good Advice Jon Cryer

Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen’s co-star on Two and a Half Men, says in his new memoir So That Happened:

I was in a bad state right after my divorce, and I certainly didn’t feel dateable…I decided I might as well pay someone for company and certain intimate pleasures so that I could at least get my equilibrium back with the opposite sex.  Charlie suggested a few online purveyors he used…

Surplus Women 

Would this excuse have worked for a victim with any other job?

A jury found Bradley Barton not guilty…in the death of sex worker Cindy Gladue…Barton, a long-distance trucker from Ontario, rented [a] room at the Yellowhead Inn…in Edmonton…On the second night, [he] called 911 and reported the discovery of the body of an unknown woman in his bathtub…But closed circuit video…shows Barton and Gladue…walking together holding hands the first night and meeting up again the next evening…Barton [claimed he] didn’t mean to [stab] Gladue, and that the wound was caused accidentally by rough sex…

The Prudish Giant

Since 2006, the venerable libertarian anti-interventionist website AntiWar.com has hosted uncensored photos of abuses committed by United States troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq…On Wednesday morning, AntiWar.com received an automated email from Google explaining that the site was being suspended from Google’s AdSense ad network, because that page violates AdSense policy.  Either Google is incorrectly enforcing its own policies, or their policies do not allow for controversial — but clearly and objectively newsworthy — content…

Hall of Shame

Outing a famous non-prohibitionist client just to make money?  Instant ticket to my Hall of Shame:

Kim Petro, a plus-size dominatrix…apparently passed a lie detector test before selling her story to the National Enquirer…Petro claims [Olympic athlete Michael] Phelps contacted her off her “busty festish” Craigslist ad in February 2013.  They allegedly negotiated a $900 “donation” before Phelps…”removed his shirt and…shorts to reveal that he was wearing…women’s underwear…’I got above him [on the bed] to [urinate on him],’ said Petro“…She says she recognized him right away and apparently provided “a cellphone number that The Enquirer independently verified as belonging to the Olympic legend”…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

An exotic dancer who was shot at a Columbia nightclub is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for her injury, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled…The court ruled that dancer LeAndra Lewis was an employee of the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 – not an independent contractor…the…decision could bolster efforts in South Carolina to classify other topless dancers as employees of clubs that hire them…

Checklist 

Another absurd story about “sex trafficking” informs us, without any evidence at all, that “87% of…victms have had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked” and “10% of doctors recognize trafficking victims”.  It also informs us that “sex trafficking” is “about the pimping of modern American culture” And advises doctors to “speak love into [victims]”.  I couldn’t make up anything this wack-a-doodle if I tried.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#452)

It’s a popular cultural trope these days that…porn is making men, especially young men, sexually dysfunctional…This basic narrative, with its mixed techno/sex panic and vaguely scientific undertones, can be seen everywhere from New York magazine to consumer health sites, Esquire to The American Conservative to The Daily Mail, Christian websites to Thought Catalog…The genre subtly shames both women and men—the former for not being enough like porn stars to keep their men interested, the latter for letting their libido rule them—and often veers into discussions of whether more government intervention is warranted.  But the narrative at the core of this genre is a crock, according to a new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine…The researchers found no relationship between pornography habits and experiencing erectile dysfunction among sexually active participants…

Vendetta (#518) Peter Qualliotine

As usual, only the alternative media questions the noxious rhetoric which suffuses Swanee Hunt’s “end demand” crusades:

Peter…Qualliotine, co-founder of a Seattle group called Organization for Prostitution Survivors, has for several years been teaching a local “john school”…little evidence exists to show that the class is changing anyone’s behavior…with…a grant from Demand Abolition…he recently began a new…john school that runs for 10 weeks—longer than almost any other comparable program in the county…“Many of these men really are dangerous sexual predators,” Qualliotine says.  Many, of course, are not.  But even the nonviolent men, Qualliotine argues, cause harm—by perpetuating an industry that traps prostitutes…into what he deems degrading work while sexually objectifying women at large…He says that of all the johns he’s met, almost none have said they “feel great” about buying sex or that prostitution is meeting their needs…because they’re coming…from a place of “brokenness” and “desperation”…SWOP, however, found a number of men who agreed to speak, albeit anonymously.  “It’s been something that’s been really positive for me, to be honest with you,” says one man…another sex buyer, whom we’ll call Charlie, doesn’t feel like he’s violated anybody’s rights by paying for sex…“It was very civilized,” he says …One woman he’s seen repeatedly…earns more than he does…

Blasphemy (#520)

Chris Hedges’ piece “The Whoredom of the Left”…is about the evils of prostitution, but the photograph that opens the piece speaks a different language, and points to different interests…it…is exploitive, in the most deliberate sense—the site, Truthdig, is using the women in the photo as a way to provoke titillation and/or moral outrage and/or (more likely) both…The main difference between Truthdig and the owner of…a…brothel is that the brothel owner presumably provided the women in the picture with a cut.  Truthdig shows its higher morals by keeping all the money for itself.  Hedges probably didn’t choose the art himself, and most likely didn’t even get to approve it.  Still, it’s not out of line with his essay, which wallows in feverish, sweaty prose and lurid excitation…Hedges concern is not…for sex workers, or for women being trafficked, but for himself.  Looking at sex workers, or thinking about sex workers, leads him to a hideous, exciting dream of his own violation…

Worse Than I Thought (#520)

Might be“?  Try again, Emily:

Senate Democrats and Republicans have been bickering since last week over whose fault it is that they’re now fighting over abortion in what had been a popular, bipartisan human trafficking bill…Democrats say Republicans slipped anti-choice language into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) that would expand the already onerous Hyde Amendment…Republicans say Democrats should have known that the language was in this version of the bill from the start…advocates don’t think the JVTA is worth trying to save in the first place…although the Hyde language is obviously a bad idea, that’s not the only problem with the bill…

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The text of Eden folded seamlessly into the curriculum of U.S.-based anti-sex trafficking efforts with its images of taped mouths, chained wrists risen toward the heavens, “in our own backyard” and “stolen innocence” messages, and the idea that the average age of sex trafficked girls in the U.S. is age 13.  –   Kari Lerum

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

The only interesting thing about this tired rehash is that its fake numbers aren’t nearly as absurd as usual:

In 2010, there were 50,000 victims of human trafficking identified, with many more still being forced to…sell sex. But even the experts admit, the number of victims is difficult to quantify and largely unknown…Of…eight human trafficking cases, [Louisiana] prosecutors…[managed to win] only one [conviction]…

Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (#134)

One of the women who is suing the police after discovering that her former boyfriend was an undercover…[cop] has found a tracking device in her car…The woman – known as Lily – had a two-year relationship with Mark Kennedy without knowing his real identity.  She is part of a group of women taking legal action against the police for the emotional trauma they suffered after forming intimate relationships with men who were later revealed to be spies…the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported that a tracking device – wrapped in tape – was found near a wheel of her car…while she was at a conference…in Spain to discuss surveillance and censorship…

Profit from Panic 

The rescue industry is getting so successful it now has mergers and acquisitions:  “The Elizabeth Smart Foundation and Operation Underground Railroad have announced that they will now be working hand-in-hand in a joint effort to save children by merging the two organizations…

Worse Than I Thought

The [Utah] Legislature passed a bill…that would clarify that a person is guilty of prostitution not only when engaging in sexual activity with another for money but also for trade of goods…

Profound Ignorance 

Another astonishingly-stupid “study” produces predictably-stupid results:

Researchers with Mount Royal University and The Hindsight Group…[released] findings from a survey of men who were ordered to attend…“John schools”…66%…watched online pornography by the age of 15…67%…viewed online sites before venturing out to purchase sexual encounters…58%…said the Internet has made it more difficult for them to quit paying for sex…they’ve laid the groundwork for further investigation into prevention models that curb the demand for sex trade workers…

monkeysFor those who know nothing about the social sciences, here are a couple of hints: a “captive audience” is going to produce badly skewed results, and assuming the conclusion before the data is even recorded isn’t very likely to result in anything resembling actual data.

Diary of a Sad Man

In the coming weeks, the UK will see what must be a legal first – someone suing for libel over claims that they are not a former prostitute.  The development has come in the legal drama surrounding Dr Brooke Magnanti, who…[wrote] under the nom de plume “Belle de Jour” about her secret life as a £300-an-hour call girl, and her ex-lover Owen Morris…The adventures of Belle de Jour spawned the long-running TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper.  But in 2013, Morris – known as “The Boy” in Magnanti’s book The Intimate Adventures of a Call Girl– claimed she had lied about her history as an escort and sued for defamation and breach of privacy.  Morris claims that…his career has been damaged by the…revelation of her true identity…Magnanti is now counter-suing.  She claims that Morris’ assertions that she was never a prostitute are defamatory to her reputation…

Schadenfreude (#429) 

An in-depth analysis of how Eden and its ilk harm sex workers:

Does it matter when popular stories about “sex trafficking” are based on half-truths, junk science, and/or religious beliefs?…it is critical that we face the consequences of stories told in the name of rescuing girls and women…many individuals still derive most of their knowledge about human trafficking from sensationalistic media stories about so-called “sex trafficking….Hollywood action-adventure characterizations of victims and villains are deployed; complex structural problems are squeezed into personal morality tales; and the stories are then used by anti-sex work politicians and activists to justify heightened forms of criminal punishment.  While the stories may have popular appeal, evidence suggests that more criminalization actually hurts all sex workers across the continuum of privilege and oppression…

An Example To the West (#504)

A campaign by Thai authorities to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests…of…as many as 150 refugees and asylum seeker…Pakistan-based media and some Christian groups say the number may be as many as several hundred.  Among those arrested were people fleeing religious persecution and sectarian violence in Pakistan…

The Mote and the Beam (#510)

It’s interesting to compare coverage of the same “sex trafficking” story from two different media outlets. The Christian Science Monitor tells us:

…the women of the Senate…decided to take on the “despicable, vile issue of human trafficking”…Sex trafficking crosses party lines…the House passed a dozen, bipartisan anti-trafficking bills…about 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked…it can happen to anyone.  The average age is 11 to 14 years old…[cop] Michael Ferjak…[denied the agency of adult women and said] “We must…stop thinking that a 14-year-old can actually [think]”…

While in Reason, Noah Berlatsky writes:

According to the logic of many lawmakers, those engaged in prostitution are always victims.  And once you have victims, you need victimizers—people who can be heroically beaten back by courageous law enforcement personnel.  Generally, the victimizers are identified as sex traffickers or pimps.  But a bill from Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) targets another popular bete noire:  classified advertisers…the hope seems to be that negative publicity will cause the site’s owners to shutter Backpage, or at least its “adult” listings section…Kirk’s website throws around numerous frightening and dubious statistics, such as a claim that 300,000 children are “at risk of being trafficked for sex in the United States” every year…The implication, of course, is that the Internet makes prostitution more dangerous and exploitive.  But is it really less safe for women to advertise online than (as one obvious alternative) to work on the street?…

Profound Mental Disabilities (#512) Alissa Afonina

Though the court’s statements and the media coverage of the story both came across as “doing sex work is evidence of brain damage”, Alissa Afonina doesn’t see it that way:

My brain injury is supported by far more than just the sexual symptoms, which is all the media decided to focus on…I have brain scans, countless assessments and [a] history of behavior that is totally congruent with my type of brain injury…I worked…because making that amount of money felt good and I wanted to save as much as I could…

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