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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

When Lucy Steigerwald tweeted this item about ICE still trying to deport people in the middle of a pandemic, she commented that she didn’t understand how they could sleep at night; I said that “Just doing my job” is even more insidiously evil than “I was only following orders”.  Mike Siegel then replied by calling attention to what Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski said about the interrogator character in the episode “Intersections in Real Time”, a man so harmless-looking he would’ve gone unnoticed in any ordinary office:

…You look at most of the guys who ran Treblinka, or Bergen-Belsen, and they’re largely ordinary looking guys, who could be accountants or repair men or car salesmen…most SF tends to…deal with the big bad guys, the…Darth Vaders and all the other major forces…but all too often the real damage is done not by the single Evil Leader, but by the ten million people who follow him, the bookkeepers who track the bodies and…make the trains run on time, who run the gulags, who build the new state empires that will be built with slave labor, any or all of whom could say, as many have, “I was just doing my job”…To the interrogator, he was simply doing his job, and…then he goes home to his wife and kids, and has dinner, and sits out on the porch trying to forget what he does because he thinks he has to do it…assuming he thinks about it at all…

Look around you, especially in an election season, and see the pure evil a lot of people spout, usually while imagining that the things they’re advocating – up to and including mob violence – are righteous.  And they’re all ordinary folks.  Some of the people I’ve crossed paths with as an activist don’t actually care about anyone’s rights; they’re just amoral Marxists who happened to fall into sex work at some point and have chosen to adopt it as an identity despite Marxist regimes’ long persecution of us.  The majority of cops, bureaucrats and other petty evildoers don’t see themselves as evil; they see themselves as just people doing a job.  And every one of them looks (and in public, acts) just like anyone else.  They shop in the same stores, watch TV, love their dogs, eat next to us in restaurants.

All the cops.

All the screws.

All the functionaries.

All the other quiet sociopaths.

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All shall love me and despair.  –  Galadriel

Have you ever considered the allegorical meaning of the One Ring?  Because it’s apparently beyond the comprehension of most humans, especially authoritarians, that nobody can be trusted with that kind of power, not even a Galadriel.  And in those moments when I feel myself being tempted by even the concept of power, I rewatch this to remind myself…and to pray that in similar circumstances, I would have the strength to reject it as she did.  The links above the video were provided by Anarras Ansible, Walter Olson, Franklin Harris, Election Babe, Cop Crisis, Robby Soave, and Cop Crisis again, in that order.

From the Archives

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It’s only been three months since the last Friday the Thirteenth, so absolutely everything I said in that essay is every bit as true as it was in December (and September, and July of ’18, and…) so you really should go and reread one or all of those if you need a refresher on what this day is about (especially paying attention to the excerpt from “Straight Talk“).  Since the last two were so recent, I don’t think I need to rehash them already; instead, I’d like to share something I wrote on request a few weeks ago about how sex worker rights is not an isolated issue:

Though many people conceive of sex worker rights as a “special case”, in truth it intersects with many other movements.  Because sex workers are of every ethnic and national group, sex worker rights intersects racial justice, migrants’ rights, and even religious freedom (goddess-centric pagan groups are often targeted by US police).  Because the majority of sex workers are female, sex worker rights is a feminist issue, and because male police use deception to gain sexual access to sex workers, that should anger those fighting against rape.  Because many if not most sex workers are LGBT (most male sex workers are gay, many female sex workers are lesbian or bisexual, and roughly 30% of trans women have done sex work), sex worker rights is an LGBT issue.  Because disabled people are often unable to obtain physical intimacy by other means, and because many suffering from chronic illness or mental health issues find sex work a flexible and accessible means of support, sex worker rights intersects with the rights of the disabled.  Because criminalization of sex work is nothing less than the criminalization of a motive (sex for any reason other than profit is not banned), it should be of great concern to those interested in intellectual freedom issues.  Because “fighting prostitution” has been used an excuse for internet censorship, internet freedom groups should be very worried, and because the same excuse has been used to dramatically expand mass surveillance (facial recognition systems and social media spying software were first tested on sex workers), privacy rights groups should be as well.  Because people are arrested and subjected to penalties for consensual acts, thus feeding more nonviolent people into the carceral system, sex worker rights is of major importance to libertarians, anti-carceral groups, criminal justice reformers, and those fighting police violence.  Because sex work is a form of work and most sex workers are self-employed, both labor rights activists and small business associations need to pay attention.  And even fiscal conservatives should be angry about the incredible waste of tax dollars going to pay police to spy on, brutalize and incarcerate people for nothing more than adult consensual sex.

In short, this isn’t just about us; to paraphrase Donne, the bell of tyranny is tolling for you as well.

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What we need now more than ever is for those of you who aren’t sex workers to amplify our voices and support our cause.  –  “More Than Ever

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know that in the past two years, the tide of sex worker rights has completely turned.  The government’s violent suppression of sex workers has, instead of winning more support for bigotry, instead turned a majority of Americans against the prohibitionists for the first time since such polls have been a thing; a few politicians (even at the presidential election level) have begun to recognize that sex workers and or clients are voters, and that among younger voters support for sex worker rights is as normal as support for LGBT rights was among that age cohort a generation ago.  Even “sex trafficking” hysteria has begun to backfire; the wildly-exaggerated wanking fantasies spread by cops and “rescue” profiteers are so at odds with common sense and with what people can see of sex workers on social media, that even the believers are beginning to support decriminalization as a way of directing police resources toward the imaginary “trafficking gangs” rather than toward wrecking the lives of consenting adults.  Sex workers of all business models and socioeconomic levels are organizing and speaking out, and most people who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool racists are finally being forced to recognize how much more severely the consequences of criminalization fall upon people of color, trans women, migrants, and other marginalized groups.  Even mainstream feminism, which has been trying to destroy sex workers since the late ’80s, is beginning to fragment as more and more chapters of old-guard feminist organizations forsake the pearl-clutching harridans who pretend to speak for everyone with a vagina. The younger activists, those in their twenties and thirties, have got this, and they are more than capable of carrying it; it’s time for older activists like me to move into a more advisory role, working behind the scenes, writing articles, and going one-on-one with movers and shakers who are closer to us in age and need things expressed to them in terms more intelligible to those of previous generations.  So with that in mind, I’m going to be spending more of my energy in reaching out to those outside the demimonde in order to win their aid and support for our cause, and in trying to help them see that it isn’t just ours after all, but rather a vital part of the rights of all individuals to control their own voices, bodies, and lives without the interference of violent busybodies.

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This is only the third leap year since I’ve started the blog; since it doesn’t come around often, I don’t really have any set pattern for what it should look like.  But when I looked back at the last one, I found some guidance:

Where will I be on February 29th, 2020?  Will I still be posting every day, or will I have wound down somewhat?  How many new books will I have written?  Will I still be living in Seattle?  What will my income be like?  What new experiences will I have had?  How well-known will I be?  Will the “sex trafficking” hysteria be over, as I predicted just before that last Leap Day?  Will I even be alive?  There’s no way to know, or even to guess; the only way to find out is to wait.

There’s been a lot of change since then, but fortunately not as much as over the four years before (though I’m traveling more than ever).  Obviously I’m still posting every day, but aside from news columns the average length is shorter and Fridays are sometimes quite short. My fourth book will be out soon, and I have plans for two more this year and three next year, including a third collection of short stories; I also have a documentary, The War on Whores, that was still in the talking-about stages last leap day.  I’m still spending most of my time in Seattle, though of course now I have my farm, Sunset; on the last leap day I hadn’t even decided to relocate yet (that didn’t happen until December of that year).  I’m making about the same as I did four years ago, but expending a lot less effort to do so; in fact, I don’t do traditional escort advertising any more except for my personal website and free ad sites, and I plan to mostly stop taking new clients at the end of this year unless they have impeccable references.  I’m still alive, but unfortunately so is “sex trafficking” hysteria; however, it has backfired on its creators and promoters in a way I didn’t quite predict, with over half of Americans now supporting decriminalization (many of them because of the hysteria rather than in spite of it), and strong pro-decriminalization momentum in a number of US states.  And as I head toward the tenth anniversary of this blog, I’m seeing a slow shift in the way I live my life (for the better, I think).  Will I be around to answer these same questions on February 29th, 2024?  Only time will tell.  But as I look at all I’ve done over the past decade, I can say that I’m reasonably satisfied with my life and accomplishments.  And as that’s not something I’ve ever really been able to say at the end of any prior decade, I think it’s enough.

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Note for new readers:  My blog and Twitter feed are definitely not “safe spaces”, and cannot be made so with “trigger warnings” or “content notes”.  I am fighting a war against government oppression and police brutality, and war is never pretty or safe.  So if reading the truth about authoritarian violence upsets you, I suggest that this topic in general and my oeuvre in particular are simply not for you.  I do not and will not self-censor; if anything I will rephrase bureaucratic & journalistic euphemisms to make the ugly truths they’re trying to hide more visible.  So “confiscate” will be rendered as “steal”.  “Former police offcer” becomes “typical and representative cop”.  “Corrections officer” becomes “screw”.  “Have sex with” becomes “rape”.  “Die in custody” becomes “murdered”.  You get the picture.  If it’s more than you can handle, go in peace and I won’t blame you.  But I cannot and will not “tone it down” to avoid offending the easily-offended, nor will I respond to attempts to police my language with anything but the same lack of respect I respond to attempts by the state to police my behavior in real life.

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Chauvinism is a hell of a drug.  Once a person has swallowed the Kool-aid that their own place and time are the best that have ever been, and that all future societies will be based upon current beliefs and notions, and that all past and foreign societies are to be judged against the chauvinist’s culture, deeply stupid ideas are bound to be the result.  One way in which chauvinists paper over the cognitive dissonance which is bound to result from such silly prejudices is to envision everyone who isn’t lucky enough to live in the Magical and Blessed Here and Now™ as being interchangeable, because obviously individuality was only invented in the 1960s and therefore everyone born before Kennedy was assassinated (OK, maybe before the First World War, but definitely no earlier than that) thought and believed and felt exactly the same way as everyone else, except for a few Great People™ whose names are in the history books because everyone else was wrong and they were right.  You think I’m kidding?  Exaggerating, sure, but not kidding.  Take a look at this article:

Historians from Oxford University have been taken aback to discover that Matthew Tomlinson’s diary from 1810 contains…open-minded views about same-sex attraction being a “natural” human tendency.  The diary challenges preconceptions about what “ordinary people” thought about homosexuality…Tomlinson [was] prompted by…a…scandal…in which a well-respected naval surgeon had been found to be engaging in homosexual acts.  A court martial had ordered him to be hanged – but Tomlinson…argued…”It must seem strange indeed that God Almighty should make a being with such a…defect in nature; and at the same time make a decree that if that being whom he had formed, should at any time follow the dictates of that Nature, with which he was formed, he should be punished with death,” he wrote on January 14 1810.  If there was an “inclination and propensity” for someone to be homosexual from an early age, he wrote, “it must then be considered as natural…and if [so]…it seems cruel to punish that defect with death”…An acceptance of homosexuality might have been expressed privately in aristocratic or philosophically radical circles – but this was being discussed by a rural worker.  “It shows opinions of people in the past were not as monolithic as we might think,” says [Oxford researcher Eamonn] O’Keeffe…

You might think those unschooled old-time hicks had “monolithic” opinions, Mr. O’Keeffe, but I certainly don’t.  Human opinions were never and are never monolithic across a society and era, no matter what authoritarians want you to believe.  Individuals have always thought and felt across a wide spectrum of opinion (and yes, that includes “rural workers”); the difference is that in the past, there were fewer places where freedom of speech was protected, so we don’t get to hear about widely-differing opinions because people were afraid of their ideas being declared as “sinful” or “seditious” or “hateful” or “misinformed” and therefore cause for censure or even punishment.  Sound familiar?  This is what both “wings” now want for America and Europe:  control of thought and speech by government and its corporate cronies to enforce “righteous” norms.  Oh, the excuses differ between places & rulers, but the intended outcome is always the same:  Thought control.

The world has improved not because we are “better” or “smarter” or “more educated” than our ancestors; it has improved because slowly, over millennia, humans have become less accepting of “rulers” using threats of violence to control what we can think, say, and do.  Oh, there have been eras of backsliding; we’re in one right now, where every would-be dictator supports censorship of ideas they don’t like and state violence against people who dare to have sex, ingest substances, or cross imaginary lines in the dirt in the “wrong” way and/or without the permission of their Dear Leaders.  In times and places where the individual’s right to be individual is respected, society becomes better and freer for everyone; in those where individuals are only viewed as faceless members of cliques, parties, mobs, or other collectives, society becomes worse and less free for everyone except the rulers.  Sentient beings are not born to be part of a monolith, and the only way to make them so is to violently break them and cram the remains into a huge structure designed and built by the power elite for nobody’s benefit but their own.

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