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Ask Maggie, Volume II

At last, Ask Maggie, Volume II is available for purchase!  I was finished with the text back in October, and even uploaded it and assigned a release date; however, I then sort of ran out of steam with regard to commissioning the cover and other finishing details.  I started to get back into the swing of it around Christmas, but not quickly, so it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I ordered my proof and put the Kindle edition together.  But now it’s all done, and you can buy it on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle form!  If you prefer an autographed copy, you shouldn’t have long to wait; I’ve already ordered a box, and as soon as it arrives I’ll add this book to my store along with all the others.  If you’re wondering what’s next, I think I’m leaning toward a third fiction collection, which will bear the title Lost Angels; I want to write several original stories for it to go with the usual reprints, and I’m hoping Chester Brown will agree to do a cover so the three volumes match.  It will probably be out in the autumn, but I’m not going to commit myself to a specific time frame; though I was able to pull off four new collections last year (counting this one, which was officially published in October), it was tough and a bit stressful, and a bit too much by the end.  So I’d rather not do that again.  As usual, if you buy and read this one, please review it; I’m not sure how Amazon’s algorithms work, but I know good reviews help.

Diary #555

I’m glad I was out at Sunset for this snowstorm (the deepest Seattle has seen since 1969, though not as severe out here on the coast), because as I’ve observed before, “when [Seattle gets snow] everything basically stops and absurdist-theater levels of hysteria ensue, complete with ridiculous terms like ‘Snowmageddon’ for a few inches of accumulation“.  By the time I drove back into town yesterday, the snow was all melted and with it all the extra-stupid driving (leaving only the ordinarily-stupid driving), but I can only imagine what it was like on Saturday, given that this is what it looked like out back at Sunset that morning (as you can see, the animals were active out there before I dragged myself outside).  The extra accumulation we had that night resulted in the shitty awning over the hot tub sagging badly, but as we’re planning to tear it down as soon as that part of the roof is in place, I hardly think it matters.  Since I have a proper rural pantry rather than something designed by authoritarian sociopaths, there was no need to go any farther than the barn and henhouse to take care of the animals.  And when one doesn’t have to go out in it, a moderate snowfall is actually kinda pretty. 

In the News (#1113)

If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you.  Because I’m the worst.  –  Larry Flynt

R.I.P. Larry Flynt

The last of the “Big Three” of men’s magazine publishing, Larry Flynt, died of heart failure a week ago today at the age of 78 (Hugh Hefner preceded him in 2017 and Bob Guccione in 2010).  Flynt’s magazine Hustler was (intentionally) the raunchiest of the three, and its brand had the greatest commercial viability in the long run due to its expansion into home video and strip clubs.  As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, infringements of civil liberties always start with those nobody wants to defend, and Flynt intentionally set himself up as a target for censorship attempts by prominently featuring the nasty, the grotesque, and the deliberately offensive, especially in Hustler‘s cartoons and cover art.  He was prosecuted for obscenity several times, always prevailing in the end, and battled fundamentalist blowhard Jerry Falwell all the way to the Supreme Court in the ’80s; after 1978 he was paralyzed below the waist due to being shot by a racist who objected to Hustler featuring interracial couples.  Despite attacks from dried-up “feminists” like Gloria Steinem and prissy editorialization from bluenosed “journalists”, the fact is Flynt was a bona fide free speech hero, and not merely in his own mind as the WaPo’s pearl-clutching headline pretends.

Droit du Seigneur 

What did this guy think he was, a cop?

The Ohio Supreme Court suspended the law license of a [lawyer who]…was charged with human trafficking involving six women — most, former clients…Michael Mearan…say[s]…the allegations [a]re [a frame-up by cops using] testimony from [prisoners] who [were given] favorable treatment for co[lluding with cops]…Mearan…was [also a politician who sat on the]…Portsmouth…city council…he [is alleged to have] targeted women who were poor, addicted to drugs and facing criminal charges to take part in [what cops label] a prostitution ring during a 15-year-period beginning in 2003…

Thought Control

US institutions often need to be reminded that they do not own people:

…Kimberly Diei, a pharmacy graduate student [was expelled from] the University of Tennessee…[after] her posts on Twitter and Instagram were…[the subject of a poison pen accusation by] an anonymous [busybody]…She was given two days to appeal, and she scrambled to find a lawyer.  With the threat of a lawsuit looming, the dean of the college reversed the decision to expel her.  But the experience was so painful that…Diei filed a federal lawsuit with the help of a pro bono lawyer, arguing that the public university had violated her constitutional right of free expression “for no legitimate pedagogical reason”…universities are…fumbling to [extend campus censorship] policies…into the world of social media…And young people are fighting back, contending that their off-campus speech is no business of their school…the Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the case of a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania who was removed from the junior varsity squad after she posted vulgar complaints about not making the varsity team…

Acting and Activism (#556)

Predictable ugliness from the “celebrity” prohibitionist trash who once called stripping a “gateway to slavery”:

Red Table Talk…[hosted by noted bigot] Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow…and mother…“Gammy”…tout[s] itself as a space where three generations of women can discuss various topics in a judgment-free environment…But…Ava Louise Lockner…[revealed that] the “open and honest” policy the show pushes is not what she experienced when she was set to be featured in an episode about being a sugar baby in the fall of 2019…she [was verbally] attacked during the several hours she spent at the Smiths’…home, [with] Pinkett Smith…rolling her eyes and Gammy…slut-shaming her throughout filming.  When the segment failed to air, Ava Louise spent weeks chasing up once-eager producers.  Finally, she…received a…call from a high-level executive on the show…[who] told her…they would not be airing her episode because…the hosts found her “gross and disgusting…they don’t want to be associated with sex work”…

Banishment (#870) 

This Orwellian tyranny is part of how governments are getting around the push to reduce prison populations:

Twenty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have laws that authorize civil commitment of [human beings arbitrarily branded] sex offenders…after serving their prison terms…The state punishes people…based on the [claim] that they could and should have controlled themselves.  But when it is time for them to be released after completing the punishment prescribed by law, the state says that was not actually true; now they must be locked up precisely because they can’t control themselves.  If the government decided to retroactively increase an offender’s penalty, it would be clearly unconstitutional…The trick is to cast continued confinement as treatment rather than punishment.  But…in Minnesota, only 13 [prisoners] have been unconditionally released since the program was established in 1994; more than six times as many have died in custody…the Supreme Court [says that’s okey-dokey]…Joe Morrissey…argues that Virginia’s [similar] program is “abhorrent”…[and] introduced a bill that would have abolished the program [but other politicians]…derailed [the] bill

Cooties (#884) 

UK cops are still shoehorning people into their public masturbatory fantasy of “pop-up brothels”:

Three men and a woman have been arrested for [consensual sex dysphemized as “]slavery[” in a raid on an apparent incall dysphemized as]…a “pop-up brothel”…Two [migrant] women…were [also arrested and]…are currently being [held pending deportation]…

“Safeguarded” is the UK euphemism for “held without trial or charge pending deportation”.  The term is Orwellian even in a field littered with such propaganda.

Torture Chamber (#1098) 

Stop faking!

An Alabama man [locked] in a prison mental health [cell] overheated and died in December after temperatures inside his cell topped 101 degrees Fahrenheit.  Tommy Lee Rutledge was found unresponsive in Donaldson [cage stack] on the night of Dec. 7, sitting near the window of his s[olitary-confinement] cell with his head “facing out the window,” in an apparent attempt to breathe cool air…his core body temperature [had] reached 109 degrees…[Screws refuse to explain] how temperatures inside the…cell skyrocketed past 100 degrees on a winter night with a low of 31 degrees…citing an “ongoing” investigation…

Mardi Gras 2021


Maybe the places where many of y’all live don’t observe it, but I still do. So Happy Mardi Gras, dear readers!

Links #554

I can’t breathe.  –  Rilee Peet

Mary Wilson of the Supremes died last week; I’ve selected this TV video from 1969 because it begins with a solo by her.  The links above it were provided by Radley Balko, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Elizabeth N. Brown, Nun Ya, Mike Siegel, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

Valentine’s Day 2021

As longtime readers know, Valentine’s Day is my least favorite of holidays, and I’m not particularly fond of the typical iconography associated with it, either (which is often weird or violent or creepy as hell).  So every year I try to share an exception, like this card Chekhov sent me last year, which is violent and creepy in a good way.

In the News (#1112)

How disconnected from reality are [censorious] Senators?  –  Mike Masnick

If Men Were Angels

Is a “small group leader” the same as a “youth pastor”?

…California church leader…Drue Mordecai, a…“small group leader” at New Vintage Church…sexually abused a juvenile…for approximately four to five years…beg[inning] when the victim was 12 years old…

Broken Record (#559) 

Irish versions of the “gypsy whores” myth always seem quaint:

[Pogroms against sex workers and their clients are] being prepared [using the popular myth that]…demand for such services [increases] around the time of major sports fixtures and other events…[fact-free propaganda promot]ed by the Garda shows the demand for prostitution increases around major events…[spokespigs oinked a lot of silly nonsense about]…victims…gangs…vast majority…[are] trafficked…[they also lied that] the Garda is not interested in treating [sex workers] as criminals, [despite ample evidence to the contrary]…

Above the Law (#866)  

The fact that the woman reported him tells me this wasn’t a coercion-free offer:

A Florida lawyer [sentenced to probation] in 2019 on charges that he was using female clients in two county jails to make pornographic films has been disbarred…Andrew Bennett Spark…was arrested Dec. 17, 2017, and charged with [minor offenses including]…soliciting for prostitution.  He…now lives in Flushing, New York…Spark went to visit with a woman…in the Pinellas County Jail…[who] had not requested a visit with him, and she was represented by a different lawyer…the…w[oman was an] adult film actress…whose arrest and conviction [had been] widely publicized…Spark…asked…he[r to let him take video of her giving him head]…in exchange for putting money in her jail account…[but when he gave her a measly $10 she] told her family about the unsolicited visit, and her family c[alled the pigs]…

Morality Lessons (#908) 

Utah hasn’t learned from this unconstitutional bill failing in over a dozen states:

…Utah [politicians]…discuss[ed the latest version of a censorship bill]…requiring all “new electronic devices” sold in the state to have pornography filters turned on by default…the…hearing…ended with putting the bill on hold…[following expert testimony] that… “compliance would not be possible…[and] the constitutional problems …are numerous”…

Chris Sevier, the pro-censorship crackpot who wrote this bill and has shopped it to almost half of US states, appears to be keeping a low profile since Elizabeth Smart threatened to sue him for slapping her name on previous versions without her permission.  Or maybe it’s because a federal judge in Utah threw out his lawsuit trying to target same-sex marriage by saying he should be allowed to marry his laptop.  Or perhaps it’s due to the warrant for his arrest in Tennessee?

Something Rotten in Sweden (#910)

California’s annual anti-whore pogrom did a lot less damage this year:

Riverside County [pigs deceived and abducted] 64 [peaceful citizens] over the course of four days [label]ing [the pogrom] an anti-human trafficking operation…[under the sophomoric name] Operation Reclaim and Rebuild…The statewide operation [destroyed fewer lives this year, down from]…518 [last year, including] 87 [sex workers; this year only 2 sex workers were brutalized]…

Theatrics (#914) 

Fake “sex trafficking” ads dreamed up by prohibitionists demonstrate the depravity of their lurid masturbatory fantasies about our lives and work:

A…Swed[ish prohibitionist organization]…has set up a [fake] call girl service…Unsuspecting men [looking for adult consensual sex] dial the [fake] hotline set up by [the “rescue” profiteers called] Talita, only to be…[non-consensually subjected to ugly tragedy porn] stories…Josephine Appelqvist, co-founder of Talita, says: “We wanted them to [violate their consent by tricking them into] hear[ing our disgusting sexual fantasies]”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1056)

Canada pretends to care about privacy, but has plenty of other snooping tools:

Clearview AI violated Canadian privacy laws when it collected photos of Canadians without their knowledge or permission, the country’s top privacy watchdog has ruled…the startup…scrap[ed] social media sites…without their permission, prompting Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to send cease and desist letters…Clearview rebuffed the allegations, claiming [it is above the] law…and that consent was not required because the images it scraped were publicly available…The Canadian privacy watchdog…said it would “pursue other actions” if the company does not…stop…the collection on Canadians and delet[e] all previously collected images…

Paint By Numbers (#1086)

The dumb “awareness raising” stunt field is being taken over by hack artists:

“Goats are empowering women in the poorest parts of India,” said Rob Canton, founder of Project Goat. “A Goat is essentially an ATM in these communities, keeping them from a life of sex…trafficking.”  That’s how Canton came up with the Global Offensive Against Trafficking also known as Project Goat.  During the months leading up to the Super Bowl…goats, decorated by different artists, were showing up everywhere…“Super Bowls and events like them, World Cups and Olympics, they are the types of events that generate a lot of human trafficking,” [lied] Canton…Canton is now in the process of corralling all these [propaganda] works…They will be part of a large art auction taking place the day before the Super Bowl at Zoo Tampa, with a portion of the proceeds going to [the rescue industry]…

You Were Warned (#1107)

The bipartisan war on the internet continues without even a pause:

For the past few months we’ve been seeing a ton of terrible/ ridiculous/awful/unconstitutional bills coming from mostly Republicans to try to wipe out or undermine Section 230.  Most of those were focused on trying to force websites to do less content moderation.  Now that the Democrats are back in power, it appears we’re going to be getting the opposite.  Senator Mark Warner has introduced…the SAFE TECH Act (“Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms Act” co-sponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar), and it is one of the worst Section 230 bills I’ve seen.  It is difficult to explain just how bad this bill is concisely, because it has so many bad ideas crammed into one single bill.  It’s as if none of these three Senators or their staff spoke to anyone who actually understands how the internet works, or how content moderation/trust and safety works.  It’s stunning in the ignorance it displays…Basically, this bill takes nearly every single idea that people who want there to be less speech online have had, and dumped it all into one bill.  There’s a lot in there, and nearly all of it is bad…This bill…does not come from a well meaning place.  The drafters…are either malicious or ignorant…

Twit for Tat

Since I do a lot of my writing on Twitter these days, but the platform insists on trying to hide it to the greatest extent possible without being obvious, I’m going to start featuring selections on a more regular basis (about once a month) so as to bring more attention to that part of my oeuvre.  So without further ado, here are some recent highlights.

 

Unspeakable

When one studies primitive cultures, one finds they always believe that words have magic power, for example the idea of a True Name, or not speaking the name of God aloud, or whispering certain words so as not to tempt evil spirits, or the idea that the very act of writing is a form of magic; consider that the Egyptian Thoth was among the greatest gods because he invented writing, and the Germanic Odin was said to have crucified himself to induce the vision that led to the discovery of writing.  We really haven’t changed much.  Take offensive words, for example; any reasonably-polite person will avoid words that he believes might offend his listeners, but many people nowadays are so terrified of the magical power of words that they avoid using a “bad” word even in the context of discussing the word itself rather than using it offensively.  And so we are forced to endure endless kindergarten formulations such as “the F word”, “the N word”, “the R word” (which I encountered for the first time this week), etc, as though the speaker or writer thought even spelling the word in question would summon Voldemort or Hastur the Unspeakable.  But such asininities are ultimately futile; I mean, is there any English-speaking adult who doesn’t recognize “f***” as “fuck”?  Of course not; the bowdlerized form merely becomes a synonym for the unholy combination of sounds.  This is what is called the “euphemism treadmill”; any euphemism eventually becomes the semantic equivalent of the Forbidden Word in the brains of listeners, so that it, too becomes contaminated and must be replaced with a new euphemism.  The process only stops when the negative associations do, and there is no shortcut.  It’s why I use old, new, clinical, and vulgar terms for whores mostly interchangeably; slapping a nice label on a stigmatized group doesn’t make oppressive laws and ugly propaganda go away.  For example, though many reporters are now using “sex worker” instead of “prostitute”, they might as well use the latter because the way they use it (ie the tone, accompanying adjectives, infantilizing statements about us, etc) is no different. The words aren’t the problem; bigotry, hate, and evil laws are.  It’s the same for every oppressed minority group, and subjecting someone to the fucking Inquisition because sinful sounds slipped forth from his larynx will change nothing except to make the world a poorer, uglier, nastier place.  So please, stop wasting your damned energy policing other people’s speech, and start using it to speak against policing others.

In the News (#1111)

The current way of handling sex workers is dangerous.  –  Eric Gonzalez

The Proper Study (#897)

Academics keep “discovering” what we’ve been saying for decades:

A new study shows nearly a third of all sex workers are unable to call 911 for help…due to fear of [arrest or attack] from police for themselves, their coworkers and managers.  The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Social Sciences, is based on community research conducted in Surrey, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Sudbury, Ont., from 2017-18…[project lead] Dr. Anna-Louise Crago…said the current [Canadian] legal framework…places emphasis on criminalizing clients…and…sex workers[‘ friends and associates]…“The stated aim of the law…has clearly, clearly failed…sex workers are forced to choose between accessing help…or protecting their coworkers or their managers from [cops].”  The data shows the current [Swedish criminalization] framework…creates an obstacle to safety, and is harmful, said Crago…Another key finding…is that when sex workers needed help escaping a situation of violence or confinement, some 40.5 per cent were assisted by other sex workers; 29.7 per cent by friends, family or partner; 24.3 per cent by clients; and only 5.4 per cent…[by] police…

Safe Position (#928)

Finally, a politician supports sex worker rights with deeds, not mere words:

More than 1,000 open cases related to prostitution and loitering — some dating as far back as the 1970s — will be dismissed in Brooklyn, [said] District Attorney Eric Gonzalez…The news is a part of a formal announcement that Gonzalez’s office now plans to decline to prosecute or dismiss cases on both charges.  It is part of an effort to keep sex workers and other marginalized people — particularly people of color on low incomes — out of court…Gonzalez said his office has been rolling out a program to dismiss all prostitution cases over the last year, along with arrests under the loitering statute, which he said it has declined to prosecute since 2019…Sex workers may still [not be able to beat the ride], but Gonzalez [promised they’ll beat the rap]…he…said…fewer than 30 cases [were] processed last year…

Quiet Genocide (#1002)

The few Western articles about the Uighur genocide usually ignore the rapes:

First-hand accounts from inside [Chinese concentration] camps are rare, but several former [prisoners] and a guard have [reported]…an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.  Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men.  She…was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men…a Kazakh woman…who was detained for 18 months…was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men.  Afterwards, she [was ordered to] clean…the rooms… “My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move,” said Gulzira Auelkhan …”Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter – some Chinese man from outside or policeman…when the man left…I took the woman for a shower…[men] would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates”, she said…Some of the women who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, Ziawudun said.  Those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them…”It is designed to destroy everyone’s spirit”…

I Spy (#1011)

Despite claims of “wing” fetishists, the worst US tyranny is always bipartisan:

A new bill revitalizes the war on terror’s favorite slogan in service of forcing tech companies to turn over more user data to the government.  The “See Something, Say Something Online Act,” introduced by [Democrat] Joe Manchin…and…[Republican] John Cornyn…is the latest attack on…Section 230 as well as freedom of speech and…privacy.  The legislation says any interactive computer service provider…will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that…government officials [retroactively declare]…suspicious…services must submit a Suspicious Transmission Activity Report (STAR) within 30 days, providing the user’s name, location, and other identifying information, as well as any relevant metadata.  Those submitting the user surveillance reports would henceforth be barred from talking about or even acknowledging the existence of them.  STARs would also be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests…

Remember that the government pretends that sex work is “sex trafficking”, and declares that a “major crime”, which means this law would compel webites to rat sex workers out to the feds.

Worse Than I Thought (#1025)

Another politician with a minuscule particle of human decency:

…Last month, the Casper [Wyoming] City Council began revising their prostitution ordinance after the [local cop shop began touting fantasies about supposed]…“human trafficking” [in the city of 58,000]…City Manager Carter Napier [admitted]…that the main purpose was to further criminalize sex work by…creat[ing] the new crime of “performance prostitution,” which it defined as “any touching, manipulation or fondling of the sex organs and/or aerola [sic] by one person upon themselves or…another, whether by touch or the physical use of other items, for the purpose of sexually arousing…the person who paid for…the sexual arousal”…But…Council Member Kyle Gamroth [delayed the vote after] point[ing] out that the definition would criminalize online sex work in the city…Local publication Oil City News added anti-sex work editorializing to their report by…connect[ing a Julie] Bindel…[screed published in the] UK [to] creat[e] a made-up panic around OnlyFans…[as part of] their ongoing series on “human trafficking in Wyoming”…

Torture Chamber (#1037)

Dozens of rapists rewarded with paid vacations:

Dozens of [screws] at New Jersey’s only women’s prison have been [rewarded with paid vacations for]…brutally beat[ing] and [raping defenseless women.  In the most recent reported incident, on January 11th, screws handcuffed]…Ajila Nelson…and others, before punching, kicking, stripping and [rap]ing [them in] a shower [to wash away evidence.  In another case]…a transgender woman…was beaten by a g[ang] of [screws] and three of…[them] stomped on her head…her…knee was so badly damaged that she’s now…in…a wheelchair…[some of] the attack[s appear to be]…retaliation for complaints…

Bread and Circuses (#1053)

Texas courts have never seen police-statery they won’t hand-wave through:

Another constitutional challenge to FOSTA has failed, at least for the time being…Last summer, the DC Court of Appeals…said the law was littered with broad language that could be construed to target legal actions and behavior.  It particularly had a problem with the terms “promote” and “facilitate” when used in conjunction with the law’s sex trafficking language…Unfortunately, a federal court in Texas has come to the opposite conclusion about the same terms…It…[claims]…the terms…are narrow enough to limit collateral damage to free speech and other protected activity.  This challenge was filed by Wilhan Martono — the operator of CityXGuide, someone the DOJ finally used FOSTA against more than two years after it was signed into law…[but] sex workers who moved to CityXGuide after the shutdown of Backpage were nonetheless collateral damage, even if the law…supposedly…[does] not [target] consensual sex work…the court [also]…equat[es] the hosting of ads for sex work with the act of pimping...Even [though] the government didn’t argue Martono was engaged in…pimping.  There are no charges related to that…

The Next Target (#1099)

Prohibitionists care only about “messages”, not facts:

[A Canadian Parliamentary] Committee…held a hearing…concerning the allegations made against Pornhub…by Nicholas Kristof…[and] Exodus Cry…parent company MindGeek…is headquartered in Luxembourg, although many of its operations are run from Montreal and the…owners are Canadian…The[re were]…only two witnesses…[an] American [professional “survivor”] and…a NYC-based [shyster], Michael Bowe, who has previously represented disgraced evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump…Bowe…showed no professional understading of the technical issues around online platforms, algorithms or moderation, or…to basic free speech issues…[and] told the MPs he didn’t “have time or full understanding to explain [MindGeek’s business model]”…

Stupor Bowl (#1110)

One of those rare occasions when I’m actually less pessimistic than others:

…the now-routine round of warnings about sex trafficking around the big game has once again surfaced…So, here is your annual reminder that there’s no truth to the idea that forced and underage prostitution pick up around the Super Bowl (or other big sporting events), nor that “human traffickers” will descend on the city where it takes place…and we can all marvel at the persistence and audacity of this myth… “Alleged attempts to tackle #humantrafficking in response to mega sporting events are too often based on conflating #sexwork in general…to crack down on consensual sex workers trying to make a living,” tweets U.K. writer Emily Kenway, author of the new book The Truth About Modern Slavery…claims of an influx of Super Bowl sex traffickers has helped the feds put a positive spin on security theater around the event, while giving local cops an excuse to do vice stings and call them rescue missions