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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Sensationalist buzzwords…put women’s lives at risk.  –  Dulcie Lee

Lack of Evidence 

Persecution of sex workers invariably affects other women as well:

In 1917, as World War I raged across the Atlantic, American government officials launched a program aimed at protecting newly-arrived army recruits from acquiring sexually-transmitted infections…police and health officers gained the power to arrest and perform crude physical examinations on anyone (though the people they arrested were almost always women) they “reasonably suspected” of carrying an STI…if a woman was found to be sick, she was sent to a “detention hospital” (or to jail) until she was deemed cured or “reformed”.  Some of those who tested negative for disease were incarcerated anyway, because their alleged promiscuity was deemed a threat to soldiers’ moral hygiene…Sex workers were the prime targets, but so was any woman deemed “suspicious”—which at that time could mean anything from being seen in the company of a soldier to eating alone in a restaurant…Any woman, at any time, could legally be arrested, sexually assaulted, and hauled off to jail with no trial, no lawyer, and no idea when she’d be released.  Those who were imprisoned in detention hospitals were subjected to involuntary medical examinations, inhumane living conditions, and…continuous doses of mercury and arsenic, toxic chemicals which poisoned these women’s bodies while doing absolutely nothing to cure their ills…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling 

We haven’t seen this concentration of ludicrous claims in a couple of years now:

Nearly 300,000 youth in the U.S. are at risk of being sexually exploited…“Human trafficking is an issue anywhere with a freeway and motels,” said Santa Maria Police Lt. Paul Van Meel…“sex trafficking is second only to gun trafficking and drug trafficking, but guns and drugs are one-time sales.  A woman can be sold over and over again. There are young girls having to service 30 or 35 men a day. It’s just horrific,” said Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino.  California is one of the top four human trafficking destinations in the country…the Central Coast has been identified as a natural transit corridor for trafficking activity between Los Angeles and San Francisco…Yleana Velasco, victim advocate with the County of Santa Barbara…[said] “Within 48 hours of a youth running away, a trafficker will approach them”…then romance them into the trafficking lifestyle…There is apparently no lower age limit for child sexual exploitation. Van Meel said…he’s seen children as young as 8…

LOL at “trafficking lifestyle”, another silly construction like “sex trafficking world” or “sex trafficking trade”.  Have these people been hiding under rocks?  I haven’t seen some of these claims in years; maybe they didn’t get their copy of the updated 2018 propaganda manual?

Counterfeit Comfort

Another fruit of the poisonous lie that “sex offender” registration isn’t punishment:

…the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled that defendants need not be informed that pleading guilty to certain sex crimes will subject them to lifetime GPS monitoring because that requirement is not a punishment.  In reaching that conclusion, the court relied on a widely cited but fictitious recidivism estimate as well as the familiar but dubious assumption that a state’s asserted interest in promoting public safety justifies the burdens and restrictions it imposes on sex offenders long after they have completed their sentences.  Under  Wisconsin law, people convicted of serious sex offenses involving minors are required to wear GPS transmitters on their ankles for the rest of their lives unless they leave the state, become permanently incapacitated, or successfully petition a court for relief after 20 years. The Department of Corrections reviews tracking data every night and receives alerts whenever an offender leaves an “inclusion area,” enters an “exclusion area,” or tampers with his GPS device. Malfunctions and signal loss that cause erroneous alerts can lead to arrest, jail, and loss of employment…GPS tracking conspicuously marks anyone who wears it as someone to be shunned, feared, despised, and perhaps worse…

Broken Record 

Low-population areas come up with the most ludicrous concepts for supposed “gypsy whore” magnets:

…the…South Carolina…rape crisis center says the target age for sex trafficking is 12 to 14 years old…[fantasist] Ashely Hoshihara Cruz [claims]…according to a study done by Carnegie Mellon University [with its crystal ball], the problem will spike during Memorial Day weekend.  “The super bowl used to be the single most sporting even that had the most sex trafficking, but Myrtle Beach bike week has far surpassed that.  How many kids sneak out during these events trying…to see the bikes and hang out and party they’re easy targets”…

Stand back, World Cup!  Step aside, Super Bowl!  Make way, Olympics!  The new “sex trafficking” Mecca is Myrtle Beach Bike Week!

Dirty Laundry

The “Good Shepherd Sisters” were one of the two orders behind Ireland’s horrific Magdalene laundries, now doing business as the anti-sex work gang Ruhama:

Good Shepherd Sister Winifred Doherty, who is her religious congregation’s representative to the United Nations, observed that sex trafficking, “a debasement of the human person,” is “rooted in the structure of society, and more so today.”  The “social acceptance of the prostitution of women and girls” includes the benign label of sex worker.  “Prostitution is neither sex nor work,” Sister Doherty told the inaugural Shine the Light conference at the U.S. Capitol May 15…

A woman who has never had sex and never had to support herself with work has the nerve to lecture others about what sex and work are.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

A Load of Farley (#570)

Farley’s going to keep hawking this same snake oil until she croaks:

Prostitution is harmful to the women in Nevada’s legal brothels.  It is also harmful to Nevada’s communities.  It’s time to end legal prostitution in Nevada…In order to better [bullshit people about] the impact of Nevada legal prostitution on college-aged men and on the community, University of Nevada, Reno Professor Mary Stewart, Kyle Smith and I did some research on UNR students’ attitudes toward prostitution, women and rape.  We asked students at other U.S. universities the same questions and then compared them.  We found out that more often than other U.S. students, the Reno students were active sex trade consumers.  They went to strip clubs more often, and they went to both legal and illegal brothels more often…In contrast to students from other parts of the United States where prostitution is illegal, the UNR students were more accepting of sexual violence against not just women in prostitution but against non-prostituting women as well…

Yes, Farley says cops raping whores is OK because criminalization “sends a message” that sex is bad.

The Course of a Disease (#637) 

Swedish model fanatics just won’t stop trying to impose their filth on the UK:

…a self-appointed group of MPs, that got together for the sole purpose of lobbying for the criminalisation of sex workers’ clients, conduct Inquiry and recommend the criminalisation of clients!  No surprise there then…In Ireland, reported incidences of violent crime against sex workers have risen by almost 50%…In France, a two-year evaluation of the law…found 42% of sex workers are more exposed to violence and 38% have found it increasingly hard to demand use of condom.  In Norway…despite claims that sex workers have been decriminalised, forced evictions, prosecutions and increased stigma are prevalent with migrant workers particularly targeted…As for Sweden, the poster child for laws criminalising clients: 63% of sex workers said the law has created more prejudice…plus, there is “no convincing empirical evidence that the law has resulted in a decline in sex work in Sweden, which was the law’s principal ambition”…

To Molest and Rape 

What kind of “friend” rapes your daughter while staying at your house?  Oh, right, cop “friends”:

A Los Angeles [cop] was charged…with sexually assaulting a teen girl while he was staying at her parents’ house in Torrance…Kenneth Collard, 51, faces three counts of lewd act upon a child and one count of sexual penetration by foreign object…Collard is friends with the 13-year-old girl’s parents…the victim is the daughter of another LAPD [cop]…Collard wound up staying with his coworker after friends told him not to drive back to his home in Riverside at the end of an evening of [getting drunk]…He then…entered the victim’s bedroom in the middle of the night that night…and sexually assaulted her…

Cooties (#811)

It looks like at least some UK reporters are realizing that so-called “pop-up brothels” are just ordinary, mundane escort touring incalls rather than the tools of “sex trafficking” from cop wanking fantasies:

Hundreds of pop-up brothels are springing up across the country…Crimestoppers have launched a campaign to try and stem their supposedly indomitable rise…Local papers are running stories on how to tell if a pop-up brothel has been set up on your street.  The rate at which this latest buzzword has taken over discussions of the sex industry has left little time to dissect what it actually means.  In reality, the phrase is useless at best, and dangerous at worst.  A brothel is any premises that is used by more than one person for the purposes of prostitution…Pop up, it turns out, is just another word for temporary…So pop-up brothels are literally just temporary brothels.  And as the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) admitted last year, there is desperately little data on the phenomenon, so generalisations about the nature of pop-up brothels and the people who work in them are mere speculation…

Business As Usual (#824)

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

…a third of…sex workers who say they have been raped or sexually assaulted by police, according to a new report by Sonke Gender Justice and Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce  (SWEAT).  Sex workers also frequently reported that they experienced other forms of violence and even torture at the hands of police including being beaten with sjamboks or the butts of guns as well as being tasered…Almost six out of every 10 surveyed workers had been arrested an average of four times, most of whom paid a fine before being released.  But many workers allege their arrests were unlawful or occurred while they were off duty, for instance while out shopping, visiting friends or sitting by the side of the road…

Spotlight (#828) 

Like a who’s who of delusional busybodies:

In 2009, Ashton Kutcher co-founded what would later become Thorn, a non-profit dedicated to [exploiting a moral panic]…to [win publicity for a has-been actor]…Cindy McCain, a leading voice in the [anti-human rights movement]…speaks with Kutcher about Thorn’s progress and what remains to be done to [suppress consensual sex]…The discussion is introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota

Disaster (#832)

If this is the best the prohibitionists can do, FOSTA won’t last very long:

a condescending and infuriating essay on The Hill…attacked the work of those on the ground scrambling for survival in the wake of this disastrous legislation, questioned opponents’ status as survivors and attempted to muddy the waters around our on the ground impact research and reporting…”rather than trying to meaningfully understand the legal impact of SESTA/FOSTA, self-proclaimed ‘sex worker advocates’ have used the flurry of misinformation to their advantage, perpetuating a false narrative about the law’s supposed effects…”  Why is sex worker advocates in quotes?  Why mention they’re “self-proclaimed”…Instead of addressing the actual impact they say we’re not “meaningfully understanding”…they just condescendingly paste the text of the bill…[which] is not really about sex trafficking…this bill doesn’t say anything about [force or coercion]…It just says “promote or facilitate [prostitution]”.  What does that mean?  No one knows!  Which is why sites that deal with sexual education and even personal non-commercial dating have been hit…

Bottleneck (#844) 

I’m pretty damned sick of politicians representing their schemes to ruin sex workers’ lives as attempts to “help” us:

[Michigan] State Rep. Leslie Love…[is] the lead sponsor of a package of bills that would license and regulate adult entertainment businesses and their employees and dancers…The bills would establish licenses, fees and regulations for strip clubs, managers, employees and dancers; set guidelines for design requirements in the clubs…set the age limit for dancers at 21 and older, and require that posters [misrepresenting sex work as] human trafficking are placed in the locker rooms of the businesses…

Regular readers are already aware of what a terrible idea stripper licensing is, and this adds several paternalistic “regulations” on top of that.

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The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.  –  Frederick Douglass

Revolutions are caused by governments.

I don’t just mean that in the loose sense that tyranny will eventually provoke revolt; I mean it in a much more direct sense, namely that it is the intrinsic nature of government to continue growing ever more tyrannous until a revolution becomes inevitable.  Those in power are, as Prince said of his mother, never satisfied; they are irresistibly compelled by their own sociopathic and unquenchable thirst for control over others to continually increase the number and breadth of laws and the intensity of the viciousness of their enforcement until at some point they become, like the aforementioned musician’s father, too bold.  In less purple prose, they eventually increase the pressure on their subjects so much that an explosion inevitably occurs.  But most humans are more like sheep than doves; they will placidly endure any mistreatment from their masters, occasionally uttering an angry bleat but otherwise standing by, idly grazing while other members of the flock are herded off to the slaughterhouse.  One wonders if actual sheep have primitive thoughts somewhat akin to “he had it coming”, “she was no angel” or “the law is the law” when rams, ewes and even lambs are taken away by the herdsmen, never to be seen again; perhaps there are even apologists among them, telling the others that this is a positive good intended to protect them from bogeysheep which are often bleated about but never actually seen.  Of course, this extended metaphor is absurd in one important way: shepherds are not of their own species, and really are wiser and more able to deal with problems that might arise than the sheep themselves.  The same cannot be said of humans, who are not only herded by members of our own species, but specifically its least wise, least able members (for the simple reason that the wise and spiritually evolved do not desire to control other sentient individuals).  And since we are governed by those least capable of governing themselves, they are incapable of saying “enough” and so continue to increase the pressure until something bursts.

43 years ago today, the French government discovered to its chagrin that its moronic and evil “abolitionist” policies had surpassed the point French whores were willing to endure; their cry of protest against that tyranny was heard by the entire world and spawned the worldwide sex worker rights movement which eventually won improved conditions in many countries.  Needless to say, these victories encouraged the control freaks to double down rather than simply accepting their fellow humans as human, and the “sex trafficking” myth was reanimated from its century-old grave to serve this vile purpose.  This succeeded quite well for well over a decade, but now it seems that the power-mad have once again gone too far for their own good:  sex workers are organizing like never before to fight these evil laws and policies, and this time even the less-criminalized branches of our profession are joining us.  Yesterday in the US, hundreds of whores descended upon Washington, DC and many state capitals to lobby against FOSTA and other tyrannies, and in the past few months a number of politicians all over the country have started openly opposing the criminalization of our profession, a position which would have meant political death only a few years ago.  Once again, the tyrants have gone too far; they have inflicted so much brutal violence that even the sheep are fighting back alongside bitches like me who have never submitted obediently to the control of our self-appointed masters.  As always, the tyrants have been unable to exercise enough self-control to quit while they were ahead, so that when we eventually win our rights back we will, in a strange way, have our oppressors to thank for it.

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The right to criticize the police without risk of arrest distinguishes a democracy from a police state.  –  Judge Brian Jackson

Regular readers know that I love unusual covers of songs; here’s one of the guitar solo from “Free Bird” played on a gayageum, proving once again that “cultural appropriation” is not only not bad, but actually awesome.  The video was provided by Jesse Walker, and the links above it by Elizabeth N. BrownFranklin HarrisPopehatEd KrayewskiMark DraughnAmy Alkon & Tim Cushing, in that order.

From the Archives

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I have an incurable, fatal disease: my doctors advise me to expect to live another 30-70 months.  I’m not afraid of dying and in examining my life the only thing that really bothers me is the state of my spiritual life.  While I was born and raised Catholic, I left organized religion as my mind matured and my path to access spirituality became intimate times with my lovers.  I haven’t experienced that connection with something greater than ourselves since my wife left me on the mountaintop 10 years ago.  Regular, long sessions with professionals have immeasurably improved and enriched my life but don’t reach that level.  Tantra specialists offer a kind of enhanced FBSM but none seem to seek that connection to the infinite.  Meditation, yoga, chanting, all are relaxing and enjoyable, but just don’t get me to that higher plane.  Small doses of some recreational drugs have been useful in the past, but only in the context of the intimacy that comes with great sex.  It’s my one and only spiritual life and it’s not what it ought to be.   I’m not sure how to fix it, and don’t want to find myself on my deathbed with this deficit.

I’ve been mulling over how to best answer your question, and I don’t mind telling you that I’m not sure I can give you a good answer.  The problem is that spirituality is so damned hard to pin down and define; religions have been trying for at least 5000 years and probably longer, and yet they all disagree on what exactly it is.  Even the words we use to describe the spiritual dimension are maddeningly vague; we speak of “the ineffable”, “the supernatural”, “the unknown”, “the beyond” and the like.  Since you were raised Catholic you may remember what the religious phenomena associated with the life of Jesus are called (in the context of praying the rosary): mysteries.  And that term predates Catholicism; the “mystery religions” were a group of cults that flourished in the time roughly between the Golden Age of Greece and the fall of Rome, a time when the old functions of religion (social control and explanation of natural phenomena) were being replaced by newer institutions (non-religious legal codes and science).  Classical civilization produced societies far more stable than any which had gone before, and the privileged classes were secure enough in their physical existence that they began to have the luxury of asking questions like, “Is this all there is?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

The mystery religions, more mystical outgrowths of traditional pagan religions, promised to answer these questions.  Hinduism grew out of the old Vedic religion and Buddhism grew from Hinduism; in the West, cults arose around the Egyptian Isis, the Anatolian Cybele, the Persian Mithra and many others.  All of these religions had various circles of initiation which the devout had to work to rise through; Christianity’s innovation (which caused it to rapidly supplant all others in Europe) was that there was only one circle, and every convert had access to all the mysteries right away.  We all know them; transsubstantiation, the Trinity, the virgin birth, etc, logical impossibilities that could not be explained rationally and were supposed to be meditated upon in order to obtain salvation.  The fall of Rome plunged Europe back into a precarious state again, and religion once again assumed its old roles until the Age of Reason gave the privileged classes back the freedom of not having to worry about where their next meal was coming from.  The modern industrial age took that a step further, giving virtually everyone in developed nations that freedom to wonder, “What else is there?”, and of course the result has been the return of old mystery religions (such as evangelical Christianity) and the creation of new ones (such as Mormonism and Scientology), each with its mysteries, circles of initiation, transcendent experiences (such as speaking in tongues), etc.  They all promise to answer The Question, and of course none of them do; oh, they provide the devout with explanations sufficient for many of their adherents, but if any of them could really provide a better answer to the ultimate question than “forty-two”, everyone in the world would’ve converted to that religion long ago and the Millennium would’ve arrived.

By now you may be beginning to get the idea that I don’t actually have an answer to your question, and on one level you’d be right; the truth, however, is that no priest, yogi, guru, prophet or adept in the world does either.  And the reason they don’t is that there is no one answer; the point of The Great Question is not to be answered, but to be asked in the first place.  In other words, the seeking of truth is the point in itself; it’s a limit approaching infinity, but as you and I both know any point along that journey is equally far from its infinitely-distant end.  The observable universe is an infinitesimal particle of all that there is; it’s elephants all the way down and all the way up, and all the way in every direction you can conceive of and an infinity of directions that you can’t, except for “elephants” read “math”.  It is, by definition, utterly incomprehensible to finite beings such as ourselves; the only meaning in existence is the meaning we as conscious beings give it.  So, while sex, drugs, religion, music and other temporal lobe phenomena may give one a sense or feeling of connection to the Divine, the truth is that we’re always connected; we’re just not always aware of it, because if we were we’d be unable to carry out the functions of mundane existence, and would instead merely lie physically inert while contemplating higher dimensions.

I said at the beginning of the previous paragraph that the point of the question is the process of answering it, and that’s not just inscrutable bullshit intended to cover the fact that I have no idea what I’m talking about; I meant it exactly as stated.  Imagine yourself a passenger in a vehicle, travelling a road or railway around a majestic mountain; as the vehicle moves, you need to change your position within it to keep looking at the mountain.  And life is like that, too.  In your youth, sex provided the proper angle to see the mountain, but now it no longer does; you’re still looking out of the same window, and though you’ve tried others none of them have yet given you that which you seek.  Perhaps the answer is larger doses of recreational drugs, or trying others you haven’t yet tried; perhaps you should try doing so in a ritualized setting, like a peyote or ayahuasca journey.  I myself have achieved remarkable results with edible cannabis, listening to instrumental music.  Perhaps you might try visiting sacred places, or exploring your own psychosexual landscape through kink, painting or writing.  And here’s the good news:  you can’t get this wrong.  You needn’t worry about a deficit; I can’t promise you won’t feel a sense of disappointment or regret on your deathbed, because we all leave this world in the same way we enter it: in blood and pain, wholly ignorant of what comes next.  But I can assure you that on a spiritual level, no one seeking as earnestly as you are can be considered to have any kind of spiritual deficit.  The point of the question is to be asked, and you’re certainly asking.  The point of the journey is the journey itself.  And when the end of your biological life comes, and you move on to a different plane of existence, you will be able to do so knowing that you succeeded with flying colors in your mission on this one: to never cease asking questions and searching diligently for an ultimate answer neither you nor I nor any other sentient being can ever find.

(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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Regular readers know that I am not afraid of death, and in fact consider it a positive good.  And so, though I understand why people might want to have a little extra time on this plane, I can’t understand ruining the quality of the whole merely to drag the end out for a few extra years.  Nor do I understand the obsession with or demonization of a natural process; all things die, including nations, species, worlds, suns and even the observable universe itself.  Furthermore, the idea that extending human life would also extend productive life is science fiction; even now people tend to “run out of steam” over time, and even though people in developed countries live longer on average than they once did, there’s no evidence that canalization of the brain takes place any later than it did in ancient times.  What that means is, if you like working your arse off to support the decades-long retirements of a bunch of old dinosaurs whose cognitive norms formed a generation before you were born, just imagine how much you’d love it right now if 90% of the population were born before the Second World War, and a sizeable fraction of the people voting on stuff like sexual rights came of age in an era when it was still considered OK for humans to actually, legally own other humans.  The current rulers of our world were mostly born in the 40s-60s, and their ideas provide ample proof of that; imagine how it would be if most of them had been born in the 19th century.

Even if you believe in souls (as I do), you have to recognize that most of the popular ideas about such life-forces (such as the belief that they are somehow connected to rotting corpses after death) are absurd, childish and impossible.  There is no such thing as changelessness; there are only differing rates of change.  The idea of a changeless entity existing literally forever is utterly ridiculous, and frankly, I think people who imagine they want to live forever – even as a disembodied soul – have not done much thinking about what eternity actually looks like.  Compared to Eternity, the 15-billion year life of the current observable universe is exactly the same as Planck time.  I don’t mean similar; I mean exactly the same.  Indistinguishable.  15 billion years, or 15 trillion, or 15 googols of years (that’s 150,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000), or 15 googolplexes of years, are all exactly the same compared to Eternity.  Eternity is an infinite amount of time, which means any finite number, no matter how incomprehensibly large, is exactly as insignificant in comparison to that as the tiniest number one can define.  Eternal life wouldn’t be a gift; it would be a horror literally beyond imagining.

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We don’t want…everybody [to go] back to their normal life.
–  Mike Chitwood

I really enjoyed this clever video, courtesy of Franklin Harris, in which Avengers:  Infinity War is recast with classic Hollywood stars.  I can’t recall who shared the first link above the video, but the rest were provided by Jesse WalkerNun YaRadley Balko (x2), and Scott Shackford, in that order.

From the Archives

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FOSTA’s real purpose is making it easier to file lawsuits against online companies, while politicians pat themselves on the back.  –  Ron Wyden

A Procrustean Bed (#502)

A documentary glorifies the prohibitionist shitshow that is New York’s “sex trafficking court”:

…Judge Toko Serita…presides over Queens’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court…where she processes women who have been arrested on charges of prostitution…The women…are offered a choice:  Instead of [being given constitutional due process]…they can [submit to]…a set number of [brainwashing] sessions.  If, in six months, they have not been arrested again, the charges are dropped and the case is sealed…about 80 percent of the women take the [brainwashing] option…[less] than victims, Serita sees them first and foremost as…[objects to be processed.  Filmmaker Stephanie] Wang-Breal…says…in the film’s notes: “Who am I to say she doesn’t have agency, who am I to say what she should be doing with her life?” [and yet she glorifies this grotesque denial of women’s agency anyway]…

Nobody involved in producing this mess stopped to question the court’s assumption that human beings are mere objects to be “processed”.  You know, like in a food processor.

All Shapes and Sizes (#521)

This procedure has come a long way in only three years:

Doctors in the US have performed the world’s first complete penis and scrotum transplant on a former soldier who had his genitals blown off after stepping on a hidden bomb while on tour in the Middle East.  The 14-hour operation performed last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was the most complex and extensive penis transplant ever attempted…The young [man]…received an entire penis, scrotum (without testicles), and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor…It took a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons…The surgery took place on March 26 and nearly a month on doctors seem confident of its success but will continue to monitor the patient’s recovery…

Shame, Shame (#649)

My friend Mark Bennett takes down Texas’ overbroad and mindlessly-draconian “revenge porn” law:

Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, took another law down for violating the First Amendment.  This time, it was…the so-called “revenge porn” law.  In Ex parte Jones, the 12th District Court of Appeals…held that the statute was facially unconstitutional.  As has been argued from the day Mary Anne Franks began her efforts to create a criminal revenge porn statute, it clearly implicated the First Amendment’s prohibition against laws infringing on free expression, to which she merely screamed her denials and did her best to deflect by creating a fantasy interpretation of the First Amendment…The State argues…relying upon Franks’ and Danielle Citron’s “legal” arguments…that [such images fall] within a new concept of obscenity, “contextually obscene”.  Except there is no such category outside of their imaginations, nor can anything be found obscene except by a jury…the court noted that the law failed to make any effort to narrow its prohibitions, which was a fundamental tenet of the Franks approach to criminalizing revenge porn lest anyone get away with it…

The Peril 

The hypocrisy of politicians sometimes defies belief:

Jack Johnson…became the first black heavyweight boxing champion after defeating Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, in 1908.  Two years later, he defended his title against boxer James J. “Jim” Jeffries, who…was referred to as the “great white hope” by racist…fans who wanted him to…take back the heavyweight crown for whites…Jeffries lost the fight…[but] what racism could not do to Johnson in the boxing ring, it found other ways to accomplish.  Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act…the Justice Department…argued that Johnson’s relationship with a white woman was a “crime against nature”…criminalization of sex work in the US is rooted in racism, and modern campaigns do little to mask that lineage…The “white slavery” campaign of the early 1900’s…led directly to the enactment of the federal Mann Act, (a.k.a. the White Slave Traffic Act), in 1910.  “[O]nce prohibition of sex work was in place,” writer Maggie McNeill has noted, “it was enforced disproportionately against poor people and ethnic minorities, especially black people, just as all prohibitionist laws are.”  As Andrew Glass wrote for Politico, the first person prosecuted under the Mann Act…was Jack Johnson…That Donald Trump should look to a pardon for Johnson in the same month he signed…FOSTA…into law, is bitterly ironic…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#666) 

Lewis & her friends are naive fools; what they’re asking for is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

New Zealand sex workers are furious that foreign prostitutes who come on temporary visas can advertise their services here despite it being illegal for them to work.  High profile escort Lisa Lewis is one of several who have taken their complaints to Immigration New Zealand…calling for a harsher stance against migrant sex workers…She wants INZ to shift its focus from just deporting migrant sex workers to punish [advertising venues] that profit from helping the promotion of these illegal sex workers.  Lewis said the increase in number of foreign prostitutes coming over has hit local sex workers in the pocket…

Permanent Record

Note that other states have similar (if less broad) laws, and that the tendency toward such penalties is increasing:

Currently in both Maryland and Tennessee, a criminal past — or even just being accused of a crime — often stands between people and a job.  This is because many occupational licensing laws prevent ex-offenders from being able to obtain a license for the jobs they seek…these restrictions aren’t targeted at people whose criminal history relates to their desired career; instead, they can serve as blanket bans for those hoping to enter hundreds of professions including plumbing, cosmetology and interior design.  By prohibiting wide swaths of people from licensure, these boards aren’t protecting health and safety — they’re just making it more likely these individuals will remain unemployed and unable to support themselves or their families…in some cases, people need only to be accused of a crime — not even convicted of it — for the board to deny them a license.  Many of these bans are also permanent…In one instance in Tennessee…a woman convicted for prostitution over a decade ago learned she couldn’t become a radiation therapist…

I’m going to start using this heading for the many cases of people who lose their jobs due to a history of sex work; they currently appear under the overbroad “First They Came for the Hookers…”

All-Purpose Excuse (#794)

In this confused mess, a lawyer complains that anti-immigrant actions “hurt efforts to stop human trafficking”, even though “human trafficking” is a dysphemism used to demonize immigration:

If Trump truly cared about victims of human trafficking, he would put an end to his ongoing assault on immigrants.  Statistics on the number of victims of human trafficking are notoriously unreliable because of widespread [ov]erreporting…Since Trump assumed the presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has used the fight against human trafficking as justification for its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  ICE arrests have surged by more than 40 percent…[which] has aggravated the fear of coming forward among undocumented victims of human trafficking, undermining the U.S. government’s own efforts to tackle the problem…

In other words, “Trump’s crackdown on migration is interfering with existing attempts to prevent migration”.

Disaster

Here’s another article about FOSTA, which despite many good points expended so much effort in licking prohibitionist arseholes it nearly made me vomit.  Since there are plenty of good articles which denounce censorship and promote human rights without sucking the dick of power, there’s not a lot of reason to bother with this one; however, if you feel compelled you’ll see this “journalist” ceding ground to prohibitionists and otherwise making ignorant, unhelpful statements all over the place.  It starts in the lede, which proclaims that FOSTA was “a rare moment of bipartisan agreement”, a deeply stupid statements which ignores that the two main US parties have never disagreed on prohibition as a principle at any point in the past century, and that literally every single anti-sex work bill of the past two decades has had nearly-unanimous bipartisan support.  The article misstates the case against Backpage, repeats prohibitionist lies, characterizes third parties as “pimps & traffickers”, downplays the breadth of opposition to internet censorship with phrases like “some argue”, and even claims that “FOSTA was pitched with a very specific (and noble) goal in mind”; apparently author Kate Knibbs believes that censorship, denial of human rights, and negating the agency and consent of half a million women are “noble”.  I certainly don’t.

This Means War (#830) 

Megalomaniacal US rulers believe they have the right to disrupt the lives of millions all over the world:

Before New Zealand Cracker – a classifieds website used by sex workers – was shut down by the FBI, Wellington woman Sarah (not her real name) says she received at least five enquiries from clients each day.  Now, she is lucky to receive two a week through other advertising platforms.  “It has totally ruined our lives”…the FBI seiz[ure of]…Backpage.com…[has produced] a global and profound disruption of the sex work industry, including in countries like New Zealand, where prostitution is legal.  New Zealand Cracker was one of the many subsidiary sites Backpage.com hosted around the world.  For more than a decade it was at the heart of New Zealand’s sex work industry – offering businesses and sex workers a cheap, effective way of connecting with clients.  Its closure has, without warning, taken livelihoods away, leaving workers without the resources to operate their businesses or, in some cases, survive…

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