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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Sex is what begins our lives and death is what ends it.  They’re two sides of the same coin.  –  Carla Valentine

Recognition

A marriage made in heaven:

A 52-year-old man in…Katy [Texas]…saw the profile of a new 28-year-old [sex worker.  He booked her]…for 2 hours…[for] $150…[haggled] down from her [rate] of $200.  Guests…in adjoining rooms called to report a disturbance…after the woman arrived…and found that the client was…her husband of…17 years…[she] was actually the man’s 49-year-old wife…

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

…Anthony Jones of Jacksonville, Florida…requested a date from an online escort service and promised to pay US$200…Shortly after the prostitute arrived…Jones said he was an FBI agent and that if she did not [submit to his raping her]…she would be arrested.  When the woman complained, Jones called an accomplice on the phone who was working from a script…Jones also pointed to a smoke detector in the bedroom and said the woman was being monitored by a hidden camera.  Afterward, the prostitute told her roommate…and the two realised she had been scammed.  They then went to Jones’ residence to collect the money.  A heated argument that followed led to a police intervention…the accomplice…was a young woman who knew she was part of a scam but did not know Jones was trying to [commit rape]…the young woman – the mother of Jones’ child – had lost both her parents in a car accident and received a settlement of about US$35,000…from the insurance company.  Jones lied and told her he was an investment adviser and that he owned fast food restaurants and would invest the money for her…

The Swedish Pimpocracy 

If Sweden really gave a damn about these rape charges, it would simply have made a public pledge not to turn Assange over to the US:

Sweden has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.  Top prosecutor Marianne Ny said his arrest warrant was being revoked as it was impossible to serve him notice…Assange…has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.  He fears extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the US where he is wanted over leaks.  Ecuador has called on the UK to allow him safe passage out of the country.  However, police in London said they would still be obliged to arrest him if he left…[because he] still faced the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine…the UK [will not admit that]…it has received an extradition request from the US…[but] new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest of Mr Assange would be “a priority”

Public Service Announcement 

Sending dick pics to a stranger is a bad idea; sending dick pics to a stranger claiming to be < 18 is an incredibly bad idea.  But this is epic:

A…Secret Service officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison…for sending [dick pics]…to underage girls — while he was on duty at the White House.  Lee Robert Moore…was [arrested after]…he sent indecent materials, including a picture of himself, to [a cop pretending to be]…a teenage girl…After his arrest, investigators learned that Moore had sent sexually explicit messages and images of himself to real underage girls in Florida, Texas and Missouri…Moore must also register as a sex offender…for the rest of his life.

The Day of the Dead

Fear of death hampers enjoyment of life:

Ambitious technocrats may predict a deathless future, but as the world stands now, we’re all going to die.  This leaves us humans with the same two options we’ve had since we emerged from the evolutionary mire:  Fear the final shuffling of our mortal coils, or embrace the inevitability that we’ll all be one with the dirt.  Fortunately, there are people out there who can help ease your mind about the whole “one day you’ll be dead” thing.  One of those people is Carla Valentine, whose job as an anatomical pathologist, technical curator at Barts Pathology Museum, and author of The Chick and the Dead, has more than prepared her to come face to face with the inevitable end.  In her book…she weaves together corpse science and her intimate involvement with the “death industry” with the vital lesson about dying she’s learned over the years…”I think that when people face this idea of their mortality…they tend to live a better life…that’s been backed up by psychological studies…I think it’s because it demystifies it…it’s better to face the reality of it.  Then it’s not so scary anymore“…

Cardboard Cutouts

Prohibitionists can’t accept that sex workers are capable of choice, so partners are demonized into “loverboy pimps” in their propaganda:

The police and various healthcare institutions in Amsterdam are [conspiring] to [control those they declare] the victims of so-called loverboys…Loverboy is what the Netherlands calls a pimp that seduces fragile girls into a sexual relationship.  They then convince the girl to have sex with other men usually friends, and then push them into illegal prostitution…A loverboy can earn about 300 thousand euros per year by forcing a girl into prostitution…some aid givers believe that loverboys are part of larger criminal organizations…Amsterdam’s new joint approach will experiment with new methods, such as [deceiving women with a pig disguised as a normal person]…to win trust [via trickery]…

I wish I knew some of these girls who make €300,000/year; maybe they’d share their secret with me.

The Public Eye (#538)

The San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival, launched in 1999, recognizes and honors diverse sex workers, prostitutes, dancers, porn performers and others who have been integral members of arts communities throughout history.  The Festival opens on May 19th, continuing through May 28th

To Molest and Rape 

“Engaging in oral sex with a female inmate” sounds so much nicer than “forcing a caged woman to suck his cock”:

A…Jackson County [Mississippi] deputy pleaded guilty…[orally raping a caged woman]…Bradley Scott Davis…admitted to engaging in oral sex with a female inmate for two weeks in June while he was on duty at the Jackson County jail.  Davis is facing up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.  He must also register as a sex offender…A second…deputy, Johnathan Jenkins…was arrested…along with Davis [on the same charges but]…has pleaded not guilty…

Dysphemisms Galore (#705) 

Where “inside” is used to mean “in the fantasies of busybodies peering from outside”:

Daniel Farias didn’t realize how bad things had gotten until his business was broken into…“It seemed like a scene from The Walking Dead…There were people everywhere.  And by people, I mean prostitutes, drug dealers…. It was insane.  I had never seen anything like it.”  All night Farias kept vigil, watching out the broken window as a parade of people dealt in sex and drugs, some openly peeing on the street.  Lake Street’s reputation for prostitution and drugs isn’t new.  But in the last few years, it’s reached fever pitch.  Neighbors…describe finding condoms everywhere and witnessing sex acts in cars, alleys, and behind bushes…[puppeteer] Corrie Zoll…[said] “Now that I have a year under my belt of seeing it, it’s obvious how sophisticated these operations are”…women…walk against traffic, making eye contact with drivers…Mary Brown…counted nearly 30 women regularly working her block…

Honestly, I find the “whore as degraded criminal” trope a welcome change from “whore as spineless, pathetic, innocent victim” dogma.  Too bad they both include the “whores are rape victims with daddy issues & drug problems” masturbatory fantasy, though the idea that walking along a stroll constitutes a “sophisticated operation” is both ridiculous and taken directly from the propaganda cops use to justify raping sex workers.

Between the Lines (#722)

Liz Brown dives into the ugly facts about federal vice pogroms:

…one of the last things FBI Director James Comey did in office was testify before the Senate Judiciary Hearing about the agency’s “programs and priorities for the coming year”—including Operation Cross Country, the annual FBI-led prostitution roundup that I covered in Reason’s March issue.  Publicized as an attack on child sex-trafficking, Operation Cross Country (OCC) mainly targets adult sex workers and their would-be clients.  And according to Comey, last year’s bust yielded nearly double the number of prostitution arrests as Reason previously estimated…Operation Cross Country 10…yielded just 10 federal indictments as of May 2017, and only three cases involving any actual juveniles.  In those cases, none of the victims—two 17-year-old girls and one 15-year-old girl—allege abduction, abuse, threats, forcible detainment, or other mistreatment of any kind…Meanwhile, police and FBI agents arrested 996 “adult prostitution subjects”…332 times as many sex workers arrested in the stings as people indicted on federal charges involving a minor…Comey…failed to say how many prostitution arrests have been made throughout Operation Cross Country overall.  But…If we assume arrests in years where we are missing data mirror the previous operation’s tally…we wind up with something like 6,227 prostitution arrests…the FBI and Homeland Security also help with similar local stings all year long…

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“Evil” is not a noun; it is an adjective.  It’s certainly true that many people pretend that “evil” can be a substance, like an energy field or a poison; we speak of “the essence of evil” or say that people are “full of evil” and the like.  But that’s a relic of our language going back to a more primitive time when we really did believe that things like “sin” and “evil” could be actual pollutants, like particles that could radiate from or rub off on objects or people and contaminate them.  We also still say that “the sun rose”, even though everyone knows it’s the Earth that moves rather than the sun.  Of course, most people still act as though the sun is moving relative to the Earth rather than vice-versa, and even more act as though “evil” were a kind of radiation and moral “purity” a measurable quality like the purity of water.  But while the former is harmless to anyone who isn’t plotting the course of a spacecraft, the latter is one of the most harmful atavisms in human behavior; it is used to justify innumerable laws revolving around exorcising, isolating and/or “correcting” those who are “impure” (consider for a moment why words like “dirty” are used to describe sex and “clean” to describe celibacy or sobriety).

The truth is, “evil” is not something a person is; it’s something a person does.  An evil person is not one who is suffused with some malefic and primordial spiritual force; it’s one who performs evil acts.  It’s not possible to be evil without doing evil, and it’s equally impossible to knowingly, willingly and consistently do evil and yet be considered good.  The problem is our insistence that the universe adhere to a Manichean duality which does not reflect reality in any measurable way; we speak of “good people” and “evil people” as though they were as different as chalk and cheese, when in fact all people are capable of both.  And the only meaningful way in which any person can be described as “good” or “evil” is by the preponderance of their actions.  Most people describe me as a good person: I fight for what I believe is right; I try to refrain from causing harm; I help others whenever possible; I strive to be honest and noble and fair in all of my dealings with others; I suffer when I believe that I’ve inadvertently caused harm; and I’m almost unfailingly loyal and trustworthy to everyone I love.  Of course, I’ve done evil things, just as everyone has; at the very least, I maintain my continued existence by killing other life-forms every single day (and don’t get too smug, vegans; you kill to survive as well, though you pretend that you’re morally superior because the creatures you eat can’t move.  Tell that to barnacles and Venus’s flytraps).  Saying I’m a “good person” doesn’t mean I’m an angelic being incapable of wrongdoing; it means that the balance of my actions, taken in aggregate, bring more weal than woe to other humans.  The same is true of evil people; an evil person isn’t a demonic entity incapable of doing good, but rather a human whose actions, taken in aggregate, bring more suffering into the world than joy.

And yet, the primitive and childish insistence on moral purity continues.  We’re told that a politician was responsible for a law that helped hundreds of needy people, as though that wipes away the fact that he gave orders to murder thousands in cold blood.  We’re told that a young man had been accused in the past of shoplifting and fighting, as though that justified his being gunned down in the street like a mad dog.  And we’re told that the majority of cops are “good” because they’re not known to have ever murdered or raped anyone, despite the fact that they’ve tacitly and knowingly agreed to uphold all the laws, even the ones which are clearly and obviously evil, through the use of violence.  A system which robs the innocent, grinds down the poor, cages people who have done no wrong to others, protects rapists and murderers in the ruling class from the consequences of their actions, terrorizes the populace via threats and propaganda, destroys the lives of individuals and the fabric of entire communities because some of them violated petty and arbitrary rules, and commits other atrocities too numerous to list in this short essay, is an evil system.  Those who defend that system, those who obstruct meaningful reform of that system, those who increase the size and power of that system, and those who agree to ignore their own moral judgment in order to unthinkingly implement the wrongs of that system with their own hands and brains and weapons, are all evil.  This doesn’t mean they’re monsters or devils; they’re human beings like any other.  But they are humans whose actions against their fellows, when taken as a whole, have done far more harm than good.  They are evil people, and those who defend their actions – even out of ignorance or moral retardation – are themselves accessories to those evil acts.

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Given that most sex workers only stay in the profession a short time, why have you remained in it for so long?

It’s not entirely true that most sex workers only stay in the profession for a short time; I’d say a more accurate statement would be that most only stay in specific sex work jobs for limited consecutive stretches.  What I mean is, while there are certainly a large fraction of sex workers who only work for a few years (say, while attending university or after a divorce) and then never go back, there is a much larger fraction who drop in and out of various types of sex work at various times in their lives.  A woman might strip while in school, then take a straight job for a while, then do camming to bring in extra cash while married, then switch to escorting after divorce, go to another straight job for a while, then do phone sex on the side because that doesn’t fully pay the bills, etc.  Once a woman learns she can capitalize on men’s sex drives, she never forgets that she can dip back into that pool of cash whenever she needs to (and for as long as she needs to).

You are, however, correct in saying that most women don’t stay at it for decades at a time as I do (and I know some ladies who started around the same time as I did in the ’80s, or shortly before or after, and never took as long a hiatus as I did from 1987-97).  Even when I was married, I never really stopped; I thought of the period from July 2006 to July 2010 as a long gig for a single client, because the fact that I loved my husband was immaterial to the economics of the situation:  a man was supporting me in return for my companionship & sexual favors.  The reason I’ve stayed so long is simple:  this is my profession.  This is what I do, what I know, what I’m good at.  I’ve never done any other job for remotely as long as I have this one; the next closest approach was librarian, and it lasted only five years.  But it’s a little more than that.  Every profession has some members who are merely interested in the money, and others who consider it their calling.  Of course they want the money, and except in very rare cases they wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t getting paid.  But such individuals derive gratification not just from the money, but also from an emotional satisfaction deriving from the job itself.  For example, there are physicians who take up medicine merely because it’s lucrative, while others are emotionally fed by the knowledge that they are healing the sick.  There are lawyers who go into law simply because they can make a lot of money at it, while others (especially criminal defense lawyers) are deeply committed to principles of justice and derive satisfaction from helping people escape being crushed by the gears of the State.  And there are sex workers who are attracted to the job simply for its good income and flexibility, while others also feel “paid” by the joy, pleasure and healing we provide to our clients; as you can probably tell, I’m in the latter group.  Now, it’s important to note that I’m not making any moral or qualitative judgments here; a physician who’s only in it for the money is not a worse human being than one for whom the satisfaction of healing is also a motivation, and a lawyer whose only motive is profit might still be a better lawyer than one who is driven to fight for right against might.  And a whore who is motivated only by income and nothing else might still be the right choice for a particular client.  However, it seems to me that people whose motivations extend beyond the purely pecuniary are more motivated to stick with a job (rather than, say, accepting a more highly-paid hospital administrator position); they’re also the ones who are more likely to be found doing pro bono work such as writing law blogs or doing sex work activism, because although those extracurricular activities pay nothing in actual cash (and indeed, may actually cost money), the individual who indulges in them may feel compensated in less direct and material ways.

(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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It happened again this week:  somebody emailed me a question that I could answer, but won’t.

When I first started this blog seven years ago, I was just a little past 40 and still a little bit naive about the capacity of humans to handle unpleasant truths.  Of course I recognized that most people prefer to live in blissful ignorance than to have their comfortable delusions challenged, but I foolishly believed that the sort of person who would read a blog specifically offering “frank commentary” from a hooker would be different.  And you know what?  I was wrong.  Just because someone’s against the establishment and wants to change the status quo doesn’t make them open-minded; very often, it just means they want to establish their own censorious, oppressive status quo.  So during the first year I was writing The Honest Courtesan, I often stepped on the toes of people who weren’t actually my enemies, and against whom I meant no disrespect or offense.  Sometimes it was because I was wrong; sometimes it was because I was basically right, but expressed myself in a clumsy or offensive way; and sometimes it was because I was completely right, but the objectors simply didn’t like what I was saying so they mischaracterized it as something else or simply denied that I was qualified to opine on the subject at all.  The majority of the times the latter happened, it was because I’m not a member of whatever group the question involved; on a few occasions, people who wanted to be offended have actually claimed I wasn’t a member of some group that I actually am a member of, so as to have an excuse to attack me.  I’ve had women claim I was never raped because they were angry that I challenge neofeminist bullshit about rape; before I went back to work prohibitionists would often claim I had never been a whore (it’s kinda hard to do that now that my escort ads are easily found on Google by typing in “Maggie McNeill Seattle escort”); and before I was showing my face in copious selfies and freaking TELEVISION APPEARANCES, some idiots who thought themselves clever tried to claim I was a man (specifically a client) because they didn’t want to believe that a woman might not think like them.

At first, this didn’t really bother me, but now I’m over 50 and operating in a chronic state of emotional exhaustion, and people with axes to grind are just looking for excuses to undermine my work by making asinine accusations against me; some of these are even sex workers for whom ideological purity trumps actually unifying to fight for decriminalization.  So I’m sorry, but I will no longer answer controversial questions about groups that I’m not a member of.  If your question is about women in general, or sex workers, or bisexual women, or kinky people, or any other group I’m part of, fire away and it can be as controversial as you like.  And if your question involves some group of which I’m not a member such as nonwhite people, trans people, heterosexual people or whatever and it isn’t controversial, fire away and I’ll answer as best I can.  But if you have some question which arouses considerable acrimony and involves a group I’m not part of?  Forget it.  I’ve been directly told, for example, that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on circumcision because I don’t have a penis, even if that opinion is based in data from published studies.  And while I think that’s nonsense, I’m too tired to fight it any more; you’ll need to address such questions to a member of whatever group is allowed to have opinions on the subject.  Sorry about that; I’m not masochistic enough to enjoy beating my head against a brick wall.

The one exception is questions about those in power, of course; I’ve never held political power, but I’ll opine on those sociopaths all day long.  Fuck them.

(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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I am an engineer.  –  Mats Järlström

I find Soviet cartoons fascinating.  This one, “Cat Concert”, is from 1986 and was provided by Violet Blue.  The links above it were contributed by Rick Horowitz  (“speech”), Radley Balko (“happens”, “talk” & “Progressivism”), Mistress Matisse  (“state”), Scott Greenfield (“prosecutors”), and Franklin Harris (“algorithm”).

From the Archives

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Learning To Relax

For many years, people have been urging me to relax; I always replied that I’d relax when I was dead, or something to that general effect.  But then I came to Seattle, and under the influence of some if the best, most loving women I’ve ever known, and over the past year and a half I’ve slowly, gradually come to accept that relaxation really is OK.  I’ve learned to set aside large blocks of time for just doing things that are fun and help me shed stress, such as getting high, reading for pleasure and my regular Sunday night Doctor Who binge with Lorelei Rivers.  And the practice seems to be therapeutic; though a number of things have gone very, irritatingly wrong in my traveling this week, I’ve simply taken it all in stride rather than having my usual conniption.  Now, I don’t think this is the beginning of some new general imperturbability, but even the occasional episode of calm in the face of chaos would be an improvement over my usual reaction to disruptions in my plans.  So here’s to relaxation; may Aphrodite grant I learn to do it myself as well as I promote it in others.

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I don’t read much recent fiction, so it’s not surprising that I’m unfamiliar with T.J. Corcoran’s work.  He is, however, apparently familiar with mine, and a couple of weeks ago he reached out to me to ask if I’d be willing to host an excerpt from his new book (with a link to his Kickstarter at the end).  The subject matter (an anarchist society & a celebration of the “live and let live” philosophy) certainly fits here, so I said yes; judging by the blurbs he sent along he’s a controversial figure even in libertarian circles, but he isn’t the first controversial guest columnist I’ve hosted and he certainly won’t be the last.   

2064, Morlock Engineering office, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

Mike groaned. “Wam, I do not need another fucking problem right now.  The Veleka tunnel issue still isn’t resolved, we’re behind schedule on rubble clearance because that last fucking load of bulldozers are somewhere in a orbit instead of down here where I need them, the damned Boardroom group -”

Mike realized that Wam’s eyes were wide and he stumbled to a halt. “I shouldn’t be venting at you. OK, what’s going on?”

“Problems with the Bao Johnson deal. One of the security contracts we own now is Leon’s Poker House.  A few hours ago some Mormons smashed up the place and threatened the working girls.”

“We agreed to defend Leon’s?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“Leon’s, right next to all the new Mormon arrivals?”

Wam sigh. “Yeah.”

“Let me guess. We didn’t pick which gigs we took – Bao hand picked them and gave us his dogs?”

Wam winced, embarrassed. “Yes.”

“Fucking great.”

Wam was silent.

Mike sighed. “Not your fault, Wam.  What do you need from me?”

“We signed the version four security contract, so we’re responsible for adjudicating who smashed up the casino and threatened the hookers, then collecting damages.”

“That’s easy enough – the Mormons, right?”

“Yeah, we’ve got video.  But we’re not actually set up as a security firm.  We don’t have an investigator or a negotiator.  There’s no process, Mike.”

Mike rubbed his eyes, then pinched the bridge of his nose.  “You’re too polite to say it, are you?”

Wam held back a smile.  “Say what?”

“Too polite to say that this idea of using the First to pick up a security gig was idiotic.  That I got us in over our heads.”

Wam’s smile started to show. “I wouldn’t say idiotic…”

Mike waited for the other shoe to drop.

“…but I might be persuaded to say ‘not very well thought out’.”

Mike nodded. “Fair enough.”

“…or I might use the phrase ‘spreading yourself too thin’.”

“OK, I get it-”

“…or perhaps ‘a distraction when you should be’-”

Mike raised his hands and feigned warding off blows. “Stop kicking a man when he’s down.  What do I have to do?”

“Watch this video, then go talk to Mark.”

On the screen the virtual camera first focused on the marchers coming down the street, banners high.  The point of view kept retreating as the marchers advanced.  Confused Chinese immigrants stepped out of the way.  The sound slowly ramped up and the chants became louder.

Wam froze the video. “Here, on the left is Mark Soldner, LDS branch president -”

Mike sighed.  “I know Mark.”  He rubbed his eyes.  “Oh, do I know Mark.  Go on.”

“The facial recognition software has names for most of the others in the crowd, and the majority of them are all living in apartments owned by Soldner Apartments or in homes sold by Soldner Homes.”

Wam fast forwarded through twenty minutes of chanting and picketing.  “And here the first rock gets thrown.”  Then the crowd streaming inside and overturning poker tables.  Wam paused the video.  “I’ll give the Mormons one thing, they’re polite even as they’re busting the place up.  Did you catch how they said ‘please’ when they asked the gamblers to step back from the tables?”

“OK, so now what?”

“You’ve got to negotiate with Mark directly.”

“It’s never simple, is it?”  Mike sighed.  “Can you arrange a sitdown with Mark?”

“Already set up.  Three o’clock today, his place.  Address is in your phone.”

2064, Soldner Apartments office, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside

Mike stepped into Mark Soldner’s office.  Mark looked up from a stack of paperwork, saw Mike and smiled.  “Give me just one second?”

Mike nodded and looked around.  The place was nice – nicer than his own office, at least.  Carpeting underfoot, a large walnut desk, three flags on the wall behind.

Mark signed the last sheet, and then stood up and extended a hand.  “Sorry about that, Mike.  Thanks for coming in.”

“I’ll get to the point – ”

“The casino issue.”

Mike nodded.  “Exactly.  We’re insuring them, and the damage you folks caused -”

“Mike, let me cut to the chase.  You and I agree that initiating violence isn’t the right way to settle disputes, right?”

Mike blinked.  Was Mark going to apologize and pay up that easily?  “Right.  So -”

Mark held up a finger.  “This wasn’t our first protest – did you know that?  We’ve been out there every Saturday for three months.  But even after knowing how we feel – about our homes, about our community, they stayed in business.”

Mike’s face clouded and his hope that this was going to be easy disappeared.  “That’s irrelevant, Mark.”

“No, it’s very relevant.”

“The point is that you destroyed someone else’s property.”

Mark shook his head.  “We did a little damage, but it was symbolic.  The important thing, though, is that we did it only after the casino started things.”

Mike narrowed his eyes.  “Started things?”

“High Deseret was a decent neighborhood before the casino moved in -”

“Mark, this is a tangent.  The casino said said you initiated the trouble, and as far as I can tell the video backs them up.  Unless you’re going to suggest that the casino started the violence -”

“Absolutely I am.  They ran a casino in an area where they weren’t wanted.  That disrupted an entire neighborhood.  It’s not physical damage, but the violence to the integrity of a community -”

Mark saw Mike rolling his eyes, and stopped.  “Mike, I give up.  I thought I could talk sense with you, make you understand where our families are coming from, but I see I can’t.”

“That’s right, you can’t.”  He balled one fist.  “So let’s get to the point:  you owe damages.  And you’re going to pay them.”

Mark’s eyes narrowed.  “Mike, you don’t want me to pay up.  What you really want is for your revolution to succeed.”

Mike stared at him.  “What?”

“You’re disgusted with the false authority and socialism that’s been rising on Earth for the past few decades, and you want to start a new society.  A new country.  I’m in agreement with that.  We’re allies here, Mike – with just a few tactical disagreements.  And like all good allies, we can work out those disagreements.”

“What are you saying?”

“The war is here.  We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.  Do you know that quote?”

“Don’t be cute.  What’s your point?”

“My point is that if you and I are in alliance, we can fight a Revolution, and maybe win it.  But if we’re fighting each other over petty stuff like poker and prostitutes…then you and I are not in alliance.”  Mark paused and looked Mike straight in the eye.  “Let’s be brutally honest here.  You need me more than I need you, Mike.”

Mark stood and stuck out his hand.

Mike looked at the proffered hand.  “The cost of you helping out the Revolution is that I let you drive Leon’s Poker House out of business?”

Mark kept his hand out.  “They don’t have to go out of business.  They just have to move somewhere else.”

Mike stared at Mark’s extended hand.  The revolution was probably doomed even with Mark’s help.  But it was almost certainly doomed without it.

Mike hated himself for it, but he started to raise his own hand.

But if he compromised and sold out a small business, then what was he standing for?  Freedom…as long as someone richer, someone more powerful didn’t want the infringe on it?

And what was he compromising?  Not his own freedom.  No.  Someone else’s.  Is that who he was?  Someone who sold out the small fry and gave special privileges to political allies?

He felt his hand falter.

If he didn’t take this deal, he’d probably lose Mark from the Boardroom Group – and he might even have him defect entirely.  The threat to negotiate a separate peace was unlikely – but not impossible.

And if Mark signed a separate peace, the revolution would fail, and he, Javier, Darcy – everyone – would end up dead or imprisoned.

He had to make this deal.

But what precedent did it set?  If Mark had free rein to smash up any bar he didn’t like in his quest to build what he saw as a decent society, where did it end?  Zoning?  Minimum wages?  Undesirable, but people could live with that.  But would it end there?  First one compromise, then another.  How long until drug prohibition?  How long until no-knock raids, email surveillance, confessions under torture, asset forfeiture?

No.

Mike let his hand drop to his side.

“Mike, I’m not asking for much, just -”

“You’re asking for everything.”

Mike pulled out his phone and dialed.  Wam answered on the second ring.  “Wam, I need men outside Leon’s casino.  No, not guards – I want a full fire team.  Armed and armored.  And cut a check to Leon for the damages; we’ll eat this one.”

He hung up.

Mark looked taken aback.  “Mike, let me ask you to reconsider – the Revolution needs us.”

“Yeah, Mark, it does.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to sell out someone else’s freedom.”

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