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To End All Wars

Dedicating a day to the end of a war is a far different thing from using it to glorify the machinery of war.  –  “Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the armistice which ended what was at the time called The Great War went into effect, bringing to an end a conflict like no other that had ever been seen before.  For over four years most of the advanced nations in the world (and their allies and colonies), spread across every inhabited continent, slaughtered each others’ citizens on an unprecedented scale, using all the weapons the Industrial Age had devised and a few new ones:  roughly 18 million people were killed and 23 million wounded, and whole countries were redrawn or wiped from the map entirely.  The monumental carnage was so traumatic it produced an entire “lost generation” and shaped art and literature for decades afterward; some idealists even believed that the horror was so great people would be shocked out of supporting warfare at all any longer, or else they absurdly chose to demonize the Germans as the font of all European conflict.  These beliefs converged in the popular term “The War To End All Wars”, which more sensible heads were already mocking before the war was over; even its originator, novelist H.G. Wells, was using it ironically by the early ’30s.  The ideas that humans could ever become sated with bloodshed, or that all violence springs from some evil “other” which need only be defeated to bring lasting peace to the world, are still popular among soft-headed naifs to this very day; they are close kin to the childish belief that the “right” people can be trusted with power over others.  The truth, of course, is far darker; it is that no human can be trusted with power over others, and that humans with the power to inflict violence on their neighbors will always do so upon the flimsiest pretext.  If there is anything that the past century has taught us, it is that the only war which will truly end all wars among humanity is the one in which the human species is finally obliterated.

In the News (#886)

There is no “[sex trafficking] marketplace”, but rather all sorts of people selling and buying sex for their own reasons, some of them miserable.  –  Laura Agustín

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

San Diego County may not remove children from their homes and subject them to highly intrusive physical examinations without parental permission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled…The case stems from an April 2010 incident involving Michael and Melissa Mann and their four young children.  The Manns had apparently spanked at least one of the kids with a wooden spoon as a form of punishment…The county [abducted] the children…and [held] them in [custody]…while the parents went to court to regain custody…a doctor performed a 22-step medical exam requiring “blood samples and a gynecological and rectal exam…[including] separat[ing] the labia and look[ing] at the hymen”…County officials did not obtain a court order authorizing these examinations, nor did the parents sign off.  Indeed, the Manns didn’t even know [that]…their kids [had been molested] until one of them said something about it later…

Real People 

Universities are very slowly beginning to turn toward sex worker rights:

…Lady Lola Lightning…a 23-year-old [NYU] sophomore and Salem, Massachusetts native started playing with Periscope just five months ago….[and has] gathered a loyal following as a webcam model…she doesn’t use toys or do too many tricks; she just strips down and has a raw chat with viewers…along with her new job as a stripper in Brooklyn, she is able to pay for her entire tuition and living expenses without support from her family…

Not To Be Taken Internally (First Updates of the Year)

Please, y’all, do NOT let non-doctors inject liquid silicone into your bodies, unless you want to die:

On October 15, 2018, a 28-year-old Australian-born Seattle resident named Jack Chapman, also known as Pup Tank, died…he…was…romantically linked to Dylan Ray Hafertepen, a well-known member of the Dom/sub pup play communities in San Francisco and, later, Seattle…Hafertepen[‘s]…Tumblr (as well as the Tumblr accounts of several of his pups) contained numerous images of their engorged scrotums, dramatically increased in size due to liquid silicone injections.  In one picture, Tank’s testicles dangle outside of his basketball shorts, his nuts roughly the size of two dodgeballs…Since World War II, cosmetic surgeons and back-alley “pumpers” have offered liquid silicone injections as a quick and dirty form of plastic surgery…But such injections aren’t approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic procedures because of adverse reactions.  Sometimes they harden into painful masses that appear like wormy tumors under the skin.  Sometimes the surrounding tissue gets infected…Other times, stray bits can travel through the bloodstream, causing [fatal] embolisms…Numerous articles have discussed trans women who end up disfigured or dead because of silicone injections by unlicensed pumpers.  But few mention the pumpers who offer silicone injections for gay men…Tank died from “silicone embolism syndrome”…[which] led to “pneumonitis”…bleeding in the lungs…and eventually…death…

The article is very long and very detailed, and describes what looks to me like a very abusive BDSM relationship.  But it wasn’t the emotional & psychological abuse which killed Chapman/Tank; it was misuse of a substance which has caused the deaths of many seeking quick, cheap body modification without proper medical safeguards.

The Notorious Badge

Looks like I’m not the only sex worker writing horror with sex worker characters:

Award-winning screenwriter Isa Mazzei did not have a welcoming introduction to the movie industry.  “I’ve…never been more sexually harassed than trying to sell this film in Hollywood,” she [said]…Mazzei, a former cam girl, has written one of the hottest horror movies on this year’s genre festival circuit.  Cam, which will debut on Netflix later this month, drags the audience inside the paranoia and perils of being an internet star.  Her success in creating a believable yet terrifying online dystopia was bolstered by its roots in Mazzei’s real fears, including the risks of being harassed, hacked, doxxed or assaulted…Mazzei had to endure the sleaze of movie execs who believed they could harass and belittle her because of her previous  sex work.  Lots of them asked her to share details from her past life, some suggested she was only credited as the screenwriter as a gimmick to help the pitch, while one owner of a Hollywood agency went so far as to write an alternate ending to the semi-biographical movie that included himself and Mazzei inserted into the script…

No Difference

African campaigns against homosexuality are a lot like US campaigns against sex work:

The governor of…Dar es Salaam…launched an anti-gay crackdown…calling on [collaborators] to begin reporting homosexuals for round-ups to begin next week…homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania, with same-sex acts between men punishable by a maximum life sentence.  “These homosexuals boast on social networks,” said [governor Paul] Makonda, a fervent Christian and loyal ally of President John Magufuli.  “Give me their names,” he demanded. “My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them”…Anti-homosexual sentiment is rife in Tanzania…and…has increased since Magufuli’s 2015 election…AIDS clinics have also been shut down under Magafuli, accused of “promoting” homosexuality, while he has encouraged women to abandon birth control and have more babies…

Somewhere in the Middle (#425)

Kate Iselin on myths about clients:

…Films and television shows cast clients as either sinister perverts who slither around in the darkness…or drug-addled millionaires looking for more Barbie-lookalikes to fill their yachts with for the weekend…Sure, not every client is perfect.  Some are far from it.  I could share a horror story or two about some who…disregard [hygiene or] boundaries…But clients like these are, thankfully, rare.  The majority of people who visit sex workers — whether they visit strip clubs, brothels, see private workers, or simply download some good, old-fashioned porn — are as normal and average as you and me.  They have jobs, and hobbies, and families, and social lives, just like anyone else…I believe it’s the heavy stigma around sex work that carries over to our clients, too: it makes sense that someone who thinks sex workers are immoral and disgusting would also feel the same about the people who pay to spend time with us…the belief that our clients are bad people is damaging not only to our clients themselves, but to the sex industry as a whole…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#687) 

This is what a moral panic looks like:

The Drug Enforcement Administration [worked to drum up hysteria over] candy laced with marijuana and methamphetamine this Halloween.  The DEA St. Louis Division says there has been no [actual] threat, but [authoritarians are using the existence] of drug-laced edibles [in states where cannabis is legal to frighten the ignorant]…signs of marijuana or meth-laced candy include unusual wrapping, appearance, unusual colors, odd smell…candy…that is unwrapped or unmarked…

There has literally never been a case of a kid getting drugged candy in his trick-or-treat bag. Not a single one.  Every time the claim has been made, it turns out to be either an intentional hoax or some nefarious shit by the parents.

Full of Themselves (#787)

Puritanical language is an intrinsic part of any story about cops raiding massage parlors:

Police have posted notices at 18 massage parlors in Kent [Washington] saying that they will be shut down…after a monthslong [escapade involving vice cops getting happy endings at] businesses that they say were fronts for prostitution…some of the massage-parlor owners and employees have been charged with crimes and…[prosecutors] plan…to bring charges against any customers who engaged in prostitution…many of the businesses…were not licensed by the state and failed to follow regulations to protect the health and privacy of patrons…

“Fronts”.  “Prostitution”.  “Crimes”.  “Engaged in prostitution”.  “Regulations”.  And it’s pretty hilarious to see thugs pretending to give a shit about people’s privacy while simultaneously plotting to destroy their lives.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#792) 

It’s good to see “sex addiction” collapsing as an excuse for bad behavior:

A former WAFB employee who secretly recorded two female station employees using the restroom in 2017 was sentenced to four months in prison…Morgan McDermitt…must also register as a sex offender for 15 years. His wife, upon hearing the sentence…ran from the courtroom sobbing…Judge Beau Higginbotham initially sentenced McDermitt…to four years in prison…but then suspended all but four months of the sentence. In July, Higginbotham refused to accept a proposed plea bargain in the case that would have only placed McDermitt on probation…The judge asked McDermitt, who sought sex addiction therapy after his arrest, why he did not seek help before he was caught…

Damned Lies (#866)

It’s good to see fact checkers demolishing politicians’ grandiose claims about Backpage:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton…[claimed to have] “shut down the world’s largest human trafficking marketplace”…The Texas attorney general’s office helped shut down the Backpage website, which is what another Paxton ad says.  However, the federal government led the shutdown and officials in other states pitched in.  Significantly too, we otherwise landed no confirmation that the Backpage site, which profited from ads about sex, also was the world’s largest trafficking marketplace–a classification that experts found dubious and unverifiable.  All told, we rate this statement Mostly False…

Suppression

This is especially important because other states are trying the same scam:

…Pennsylvania [prisons will]…allow…book orders to resume through a new centralized processing center…The [censorship plan] was…[pretended] to eliminate drug smuggling into the prisons, [when in actuality all contraband comes in via screws]…[Chief Screw] John Wetzel said the new procedure was a response to criticisms by book-donation groups…The new policy…allows family and friends to order books to be shipped directly from publishers or bookstores to a secure processing center in Bellefonte, Pa., where staff will screen books five days per week.  It also enables inmates to place orders directly from a hard-copy catalog…the book-donation groups still have concerns about how the new process will play out, including how the [prison system] will ensure the packages reach the inmates who requested them, intact with all supplemental materials…Sean Damon of Amistad Law Project, which led protests over the book prohibition…[is] not satisfied, as other new security measures — including the scanning and surveillance of incoming mail, and the photocopying of inmate legal mail — remain in place…

Traffic Jam (#877)

Remember that “threat” a Hawaiian prohibitionist claimed to have received from “pimps”?

The recent publication of a hyperbolic study that purported to show an “astronomical” level of demand for sex workers in the Hawaii was punctuated by…Police…respond[ing] to a call regarding a purported threat of physical violence against [prohibitionist politician] Khara Jabola-Carolus…police concluded that there had been no physical threat…[what actually happened was that during] a conference call…one [prohibitionist claimed to]…hav[e] received a…text message [from Dominique Roe-Sepowitz which in turn claimed] that…some person or persons were “trying to get Jabola-Carolus fired”…

Signs (#878) 

Another state mandates indoctrinating hotel workers into being anti-whore snitches:

A state mandate now aims to [harass] sex [workers] in Minnesota through the state’s hotel industry.  The law requires all hotel and motel employees to be [indoctrinated] in [anti-whore propaganda].  The training must be completed by Nov. 28.  After that date, all new employees must be [indoctrinated] within 90 days of hire…the signs to look for [include] guest[s traveling light]…or [with their children]…“There might be signs in the room – for example, that they…request extra sheets and extra towels, [and enjoy their privacy]” said Minnesota [prohibitionist]…Beatriz Menanteau…

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that on several occasions I’ve tweeted GoFundMe appeals for homeless sex workers, organized by a close friend of mine who does street outreach.  Recently, I asked her to write something for me so that in future, I can point back to it to explain who it is I’m asking charity for.  This lady is a Seattle sex worker who is well-known in our community, but prefers to remain anonymous for her activism.  If you’d like to help her out (because she does 95% of this out of her own pocket), please let me know and I’ll arrange a way for you to donate to her important work.

Like so many things in this industry, it started with Kristen D’Angelo, who contacted me because her friend from Sacremento had a daughter living in Seattle.  Kristen’s friend was concerned his daughter was working on the streets and was hoping to get someone to check on her; she (let’s call her Jess) was homeless, using drugs, and working on Aurora Avenue.  Maggie and I ended up taking her out for dinner.  More than anything, she was surprised that instead of being met with judgement and Jesus, she was met by peers with compassion and kindness (along with some screening tips for seeing clients).  Shortly thereafter, I found out an acquaintance of mine had lost her housing, and she and her boyfriend were living out of their car.  I would go see her once, occasionally twice, a week, bringing lunch or dinner, and we would eat together and talk.  After a couple visits I starting meeting some of the people that they had befriended in their time on the streets.  I was struck by the situations of the women there.  To see women so vulnerable was terrifying…but I wasn’t sure what I could do.  I asked them: what do you need?  How can I help?  While I don’t have a tremendous surfeit of disposable income, I could certainly spend $100 a week buying food for people that badly needed it.  So I did.

Simultaneously, I was keeping in (more sporadic) contact with Jess.  It wasn’t long before I was heading up to Aurora once a week (give or take) as well.  Eventually I was out two or three nights a week talking to young women from Aurora to Belltown to SoDo, both in the jungle and working the streets.  I found myself out at 7pm, 10pm, or midnight walking through the city, talking to people.  Instead of being in Greenlake or Madrona, I found myself in places with appellations like the Batcave and Clowntown; I was under the viaduct and in tent cities along the highway.  Within this world, it takes time to earn trust; there are always, to this day, some women that refuse to talk to me or that I have met five times but act as if they don’t know me…and that’s fine.  For the ones that do talk, I hand out condoms and Narcan.  I bring jackets, food, toiletries, clean socks, and camping propane tanks.  I take girls to Planned Parenthood for panel tests; to emergency shelters; to drop them off at detox.  Many of them, if you asked, would not identify as a sex workers, and if you called them a sex worker, you might get punched in the face.  But, if you said, “if you give me a blowjob, you can sleep in my tent tonight.”  Well, that’s an easy yes!!  Whether they identify as sex workers or not, they know when they see me that religion isn’t coming into the conversation and I am not going to tell them what they should do or have to do.  Giving these women autonomy in their decision-making is very important; even when, in my opinion, they may make a terrible choice, it’s theirs to make and I won’t try to take that away from them.  Similarly, none of the things I hand out have strings attached; the only rules are I will not give out cash or buy drugs.

When I meet women that are open to talking, I may make some harm reduction suggestions or ask them what they need.  Much of the time, I listen.  Many of these women have suffered extensive trauma, have drug abuse issues (the desire to anesthetize a terrible situation is strong), or have mental health problems – or all three.  In addition, there is the pervasive sense of hopelessness that comes with being utterly marginalized and, in effect, thrown away by society; just having someone listen and acknowledge you can be significant.  It definitely isn’t the easiest volunteer path I could have taken.  There have been multiple calls from girls that have been raped, assaulted, or robbed.  I helped a girl that had been thrown out of a moving car by a client, and another girl that was pistol-whipped by her boyfriend.  I’ve Narcan’d people through countless overdoses (if anyone ever needs to be resuscitated – I am a fucking pro).  I’ve been hung up on by police when calling 9-1-1 for help and been told by the paramedics that they “can’t” go where they are needed.  I’ve stepped over dead bodies and had rats the size of Boston Terriers leisurely swagger over my toes.

The other side is that there are happier stories.  I paid out my own pocket for a girl to go to rehab because I believed in her when no one else did; she completed 90 days of treatment and moved back to her parent’s house in Minnesota.  That was over a year ago and she is still clean and sober.  Two girls had been living in and out of motels on Aurora and we worked together to get them into a low-income apartment; two other girls saw what they did and decided they could do it too.  I’ve acted as an advocate for a girl that was brutally raped by a prominent Seattleite; I connected her with a lawyer and could not have been happier for her when she got a ridiculously large settlement.  Money didn’t make the PTSD disappear, but it certainly put her in a situation where she could take time and heal.  Unfortunately, the stories with (ahem) happy endings are exceptionally few and far between; the emotional labor can be intense, overwhelming, and exhausting.  I’ve asked myself more than once why I’m not walking dogs at the Humane Society, and I have spent more hours than I can count crying on Maggie’s couch.  But I very strongly believe that everyone needs some help now and then; if I can help someone make a more informed decision or turn a corner, then it’s worth it.

Not Your Costume?

In the past few weeks I’ve seen a number of Facebook posts urging people not to wear offensive Halloween costumes, which got me thinking:  Are you offended when “amateurs” wear “hooker” costumes?

I think the problem with the whole “offensive costume” thing is that, like nearly everything nowadays, it’s so incredibly overblown.  I totally understand why people from marginalized groups (including, but not limited to, black people, Amerinds and sex workers) are annoyed and offended when people from majority social groups who have never done anything to help them (and indeed support political policies that hurt them) use caricatures of their identities as costumes; it feels patronizing and kind of dehumanizing.  However, I draw the line at telling anybody else what to do, and I would actively fight any kind of institutional rules telling people what they can and can’t wear.  If some clueless amateur couple wants to dress up as “pimp and ho” caricatures I will mock them, tell them they’re classless imbeciles, and probably even mute them on social media; however, I would not support some puritanical bean-counter telling them that they were not allowed to make asses of themselves thus.  I’m of the “more speech” school; in other words, I think the most effective way of shutting down offensive anti-sex BS is to lob it back harder, as I do when I mock the “dirty whore” myth by featuring articles about sky-high STI rates among amateurs and declaring that they’re a public health menace who should be licensed and regulated.  So if I felt really strongly about some nitwit wearing a “whore” costume, I’d respond by creating an even more over-the-top and offensive “amateur” costume.

The worst excess of the “offensive costume” controversy, though, is people telling little kids that they’re not allowed to dress up as heroes of different races for Halloween.  If a little white girl wants to dress up as Moana, or a little Asian boy as Black Panther, or a little black boy as Batman, no adult has the fucking right to say anything about it…and frankly, I think it’s arse-backward anyway.  If a little kid’s greatest hero is someone of a different race, I consider that a good thing, not something to discourage; it brings us one baby step closer to the day when we start judging people by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skins or the sounds of their surnames.  And if a teenage girl wants to dress up as a famous whore like Calamity Jane or a fictional one like Inara from Firefly, not out of mockery but out of admiration, I have absolutely no problem with that.

(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.)

In the News (#885)

The goal of sexual suppression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation.  –  Wilhelm Reich

The Red Umbrella 

As long as sex work is marginalized, sex workers will be targeted for violence:

…four masked men…knocked on the hotel door of a dominatrix in Queens, pushed their way in and tied her up at gunpoint before running off with an iPhone, cash and a debit card…The woman got a call from an unknown number she figured was a client; when she opened the hotel door, she expected her client to be on the other side…The four men, all wearing black hooded sweatshirts or jackets, forced their way in…when she opened the door around 5:45 p.m. They menaced her at gunpoint and bound her with duct tape before stealing the phone, cash, card and her state driver’s license…

Watershed

For those who think I’m wrong about sex worker rights having passed the watershed:

The Federation des Femmes du Quebec (FFQ)…a well-recognised women’s rights organisation…took [the obvious]…stance…that women can make a free-will choice on their own to enter into the sex trade…The executive-director of Stella, a Montreal sex workers advocacy group praises the decision…[saying] said it recognises sex workers choices and their human rights…

Red Lamp

Sometimes, studying commercial sex of the past opens people’s eyes to the present:

They worked in brothels frequented by troops serving on the front line in northern France, but their role has been virtually erased from the history books.  Thanks to a new Roundhouse art project, Cause and Effect, to mark the centenary of the end of the conflict, the wartime sex workers have been immortalised in a film with poet Hollie McNish …[who] worked with historian Clare Makepeace…to create War’s Whores, which details the “significant minority” of men paying for sex on the front line…McNish [said]…that one of the things that she found most poignant was the fact that so many men wanted to visit a sex worker if they thought they would die the next day…“It’s a much deeper thing than we give it credit for.  The men thought they were likely to die the next day, the thought you’re never going to have someone touch you nicely again before you die, it must be horrendous”…she hopes that reigniting the memory of wartime sex workers will provoke conversations about the industry today…“It’s ridiculous…that we’re allowed to talk about violence and not about sex…That job has been shamed out of history, rather than just forgotten”…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#726)

Politicians the world over promise the same evil, impossible things, and stupid people just keep believing them:

Sex work has been illegal in Thailand since 1960 but government officials and law enforcement officers have long turned a blind eye…a series of high profile police raids has put considerable strain on that relationship and some sex workers fear the whole industry is in jeopardy…the country’s Tourism Minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul [has] said “We want Thailand to be [Disnified]…we want the sex industry gone.”  Her [statements parrot] those of the military junta that seized power in 2014…said Somai Jantawong, a…sex worker living in Chiang Mai…“If we are arrested or lose our jobs then it affects the whole family and the whole community.  We are the drivers of development in this country, if you lock us up then you will have more people in poverty and more people without homes”…Havocscope, who chart black market crime statistics and data, estimate that the sex industry pumps $6.4 billion into the Thai economy.  In fact, Friedrich Schneider, an economist at Johannes Kepler University in Austria, found that Thailand has one of the largest shadow economies in the world, accounting for 40.9% of real GDP in 2014…

O, Canada! (#785)

I thought “Operation Northern Spotlight” had been rebranded, but apparently that was a different Canadian cop campaign to harass and intimidate sex workers:

From October 15 to 21, police arrested 20 [sex workers and associates] through the seventh edition of Operation Northern Spotlight…a Canadian law enforcement [sting] operation…to [harass] and [intimidate]…sex [workers]…This year’s operation [included]…the RCMP…and…62 [other cop shops] from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island…

The Notorious Badge (#795)

There is nothing remotely “intimate” about sucking a dildo in front of dozens of people and a chaperone, for broadcast to millions of viewers:

Last spring, Emily Meade was getting ready to give a [fake] blow job [to a dildo] in front of a crew of people on the…set of HBO’s The Deuce…As Meade knelt down, a woman named Alicia Rodis, the network’s first-ever “intimacy coordinator,” was within eyeshot, watching the monitor.  She had given Meade a pad for her knees, knowing that the hard floor would bruise them otherwise.  Between takes, she offered mouth spray and flavored lubricant.  And she had spoken with Meade before the scene about her concerns and relayed them to the director…Network executives found Rodis through Intimacy Directors International, a nonprofit she cofounded in 2016 that aims to normalize a set of standards and practices surrounding the execution of sex scenes on stage and on film…HBO has now adopted a policy whereby all of its shows and movies with intimate scenes will be staffed with an intimacy coordinator — either Rodis or someone like her…

Because hiring actual sex workers as consultants for this sort of thing would be crazy, and fucking amateurs can’t think of things like knee pads.

The Puritan Recrudescence (#820)

Dr. David Ley on the weird, dangerous and increasingly-popular belief that masturbation is harmful to men:

In recent years, we’ve seen the return of a strange, antiquated belief system that claims that masturbation results in weakness, loss of manhood, and psychological damage…Your Brain on Porn and Reboot Nation are…online groups who argue that masturbation to porn…results in neurological changes which desensitize a person’s brain to real sex, cause erectile dysfunction, and instill an addiction to…pornography…Brigham Young University…spent what appears to be a great deal of money to produce a public service advertisement against the dangers and “darkness” of masturbation…The Proud Boys…a group of young, nationalist males…claim…that masturbating makes men less likely to get dates…all of these concerns, both historical and modern, about masturbation are primarily focused on male masturbation…Wilhelm Reich…who wrote The Mass Psychology of Fascism…suggested that sexual suppression was a tool of fascism, a way to train young people to submit to authority, even in something relating to their own body…and…conservative religions…have a long history of condemnation of masturbation…

To Protect and Serve (#830)

A rare victory for sex workers over pigs:

The San Diego City Council today gave the green light for $1.5 million in payouts to 17 dancers who…were violated [by cops] during raids at two strip clubs…The first settlement awarded $110,000 to one dancer.  The second settlement awarded about $1.4 million to 16 dancers…[who] were held against their will and [molested]…by 10 [pervert cops]…Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represented 16 of the dancers, [said]…”The…settlement is a drop in the bucket compared to what the City of San Diego spent conducting the raids in the first place and then misleading the public for four years with painfully dumb legal denials and defenses…the City Attorney’s Office…arrogantly bullied the dancers and filed bogus defense after bogus defense until they realized they would not sell their legal charade to a set of jurors with common sense”…

Disaster (#841)

We did warn you dilettantes that this wouldn’t stop with actual sex workers:

HotMilitaryGirls.com, a site that for years offered nude photos and videos of female servicemembers, has been shut down by its operators as the site’s legal counsel reviews its content…after [pearl-clutching prohibitionist politician] Claire McCaskill, [one of] the [chief sponsors of the censorship law FOSTA/SESTA]…called for the Defense Department’s inspector general to investigate the site…McCaskill’s office said in a statement that she lauded the news the site had [self-censored] but still sought [revenge on peaceful people for daring to be sexual]…

Dutch Threat (#852) 

Dutch authorities are now pretending their attempts to Disnify De Wallen are really intended to help sex workers:

The three parties which run Amsterdam city council have drawn up a string of proposals for dealing with the city’s red light district and moving prostitution to a new location is one of the options…The area has been home to prostitution for centuries, because of its proximity to the docks, but the surge in tourism is causing both locals and prostitutes considerable problems, [politicians claim]…Many clients are now visiting prostitutes they find via internet or at a hotel rather than in the Wallen district.  This means that many red light windows are now empty during the day and [prohibitionists have schemed for years to]…clos[e] them altogether…[politicians] now suggest giving licences for prostitution outside the red light district, so the women who work in window brothels can move to a new area, without the problems caused by tourists…Prostitution is a major tourist draw, but is this really the reason you want to attract people to visit?, said [prudish busybody] Socialist councillor Nicole Temmink…

Droit du Seigneur (#872)

If these pimps weren’t cops, they’d be facing “sex trafficking” charges right now:

Six of the NYPD cops accused of running a prostitution and gambling ring are in plea talks with prosecutors…the men were offered plea deals ranging from probation to 2-to 6-year prison sentences, but their lawyers didn’t want to accept so early in the case…

Pyrrhic Victory (#882) 

More on police abuse of Amazon’s face recognition software:

…[in downtown] Orlando…lightbulb-sized camera[s] affixed to…traffic signal poles…instantly send a live video feed over to Amazon’s facial “Rekognition” system, cross-referencing…face[s] against [a surveillance database]…In the US, there are no laws governing the use of facial recognition, and there is no regulatory framework limiting its law enforcement applications.  There is no case law or constitutional precedent upholding police use of the tech without a warrant; courts haven’t even decided whether facial recognition constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment…[so of course cops are eager to] pilot…these systems [before their power is limited by laws or precedents…Amazon marketed its facial recognition tools to Orlando’s police department, providing tens of thousands of dollars of technology to the city at no cost, and shielding the Rekognition pilot with a mutual nondisclosure agreement that kept its details [secret from]…the public…In May, Orlando police reportedly finalized a deal to crowdsource neighborhood footage from residents of the city using [another Amazon] service called Ring, which uses…a doorbell camera…to[feed images] to Orlando Police…There is no automatic sharing of data between Ring and Rekognition right now.  But Amazon would not…commit…to keep the data generated by each of these companies…separate…

To Molest and Rape (#883) 

“Feminists” who talk about rapist cops without mentioning sex workers are aiding and abetting the rapists:

[A cop] is caught in an act of sexual misconduct every five days, and that the majority of cases involve “motorists, crime victims, informants, students and young people in job-shadowing programs”…black women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming people, along with Indigenous, immigrant, and other people of color, make up the majority of people targeted for sexual violence by law enforcement agents…police sexual violence is consistently ignored by mainstream media and movements focused on police violence and sexual assault…[because cops] intentionally target people they don’t think will be believed…people who use drugs, trade sex, people who are precariously housed, disabled, LGBTQ—people who aren’t seen as ideal poster children for mainstream movements.  Secondly, acknowledging sexual violence by [cops] as a systemic problem profoundly destabilizes the notion of police as protectors, an uncomfortable reality for movements deeply invested in law enforcement as the answer to sexual violence…

You see that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to “people who trade sex”?  That’s the only reference in a 1200+ word article about the one group which is targeted for sexual violence by cops more than any other, by a wide margin.  In an article about how activists ignore rape victims who aren’t ideal poster children. The reek of hypocrisy is overwhelming.

Diary #436

I got a number of lovely gifts for my birthday last week. Angela Keaton described this flask (which I received from Jeremy Dunn, along with a smaller travel flask & an Alfred Hitchcock set) as “peak Maggie”.  Nattie Roman sent me a different Hitchcock set, and Daedalus gave me a sweater dress (and a grooming set for Shiloh!)  I also got some lovely things from my close friends (some of whom joined me for a small, quiet celebration Halloween night).  And I also received another, intangible gift:  birthday greetings from an online friend I haven’t heard from since I came to Seattle, but have often thought of quite often.  This was a little quieter birthday week than I’ve had for the past few years, partly because of the way things fell.  But it was good to have a few hours to visit with people I love, and to receive tokens of esteem and love from people I know both in person and online.  And when I’m in one of the dark moods that have been a regular part of my life since before puberty, it’s good to look at things like cards and gifts and remember that many people feel their lives are better for having known me.

Illegitimate

The most important lesson of the “Me Too” phenomenon has, of course, gone completely ignored:  it is the same as the most important lesson that ubiquitous cell phone video and Donald Trump’s presidency have taught us, which is that absolutely no one, no matter how respected by peers or loved by the masses or showered with professional accolades by superiors, can be trusted with power over other people.  Any power which can be misused, will be misused, and even if a given holder of power manages to do too little evil with it to be noticed, you can safely bet the farm that other individuals with the same power, either contemporary power-holders or inheritors of that power, will misuse it in some more spectacular fashion.  People with control over others’ livelihood will use it to extort sex; people with “authority” to inflict violence without personal consequence will do so, arbitrarily and capriciously, even upon women and children; people who believe themselves immune to the caprice of authoritarian thugs will not hesitate to summon those thugs in hope of inflicting violence upon others who somehow annoy or upset them; people with “authority” to impose ridiculous laws on others will do so even if they are fully aware of the damage those laws will do; and mad emperors supported by a chorus of sycophants will give orders so bizarre and logically incoherent they make the promotion of an actual horse to high political office look mild and benign in comparison.  And yet people refuse to learn what is right in front of their faces; they instead fetishize the magical power of “democracy” (a fancy name for mob rule) to somehow locate and elevate to rulership individuals who actually can be trusted with power, despite the obvious fact that no such human exists, or ever has, or ever will.

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one.  As I wrote in “A Necessary Evil“, a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia.  But this is the vile and barbaric belief-system of savages; as I point out every year on this day, nations and empires are as mortal as living creatures, and none enjoy the mandate of Heaven.  As I wrote in “Tiger, Tiger“:

…no person is morally bound to obey “authorities” merely because he or she happens to be physically located within imaginary lines on a map…the moral authority of ANY politician…is exactly as legitimate as the moral authority of a tiger pissing on trees to mark its territory.  In other words, one should be mindful that there’s a dangerous and irrational animal in the area…but that animal’s behavior doesn’t represent “justice” or a “social contract” or “divine right” or anything else but the predictable behavior of a violent animal with no understanding of what right & wrong actually mean.  “Authorities”, like tigers, are best avoided unless they’re locked up in cages where they can’t maim others…they are NOT to be given…any kind of obedience or deference except what’s minimally necessary to get away safely if one happens to run into one…

There is not and in fact cannot be any such thing as “legitimate” authority, whether that authority is chosen by elections, lots, birth, examining goat entrails, or pulling swords out of lakes.  And until humans collectively get that through their thick simian skulls, we are doomed to suffer an endless succession of evil rulers stomping on human freedom and dignity until they at last succeed in wiping us all out.