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Hot Mess Alabama

For years, Washington, Arizona and Texas were the most consistently-outlandish sources of “sex trafficking” nonsense; other states of course produced their share, but whenever one encountered a truly bat-shit crazy pronouncement about numbers, supposed “pimp” methods or the like, it was a safe bet it came from one of those three states.  More recently, Florida has striven to win the same reputation in “sex trafficking” lunacy as it already has in individual behavioral lunacy, but in the past year Alabama appears to be trying to make up for lost time with some truly ludicrous claims.  Almost exactly a year ago, fetishists at the University of Alabama claimed that in 2017 cops had…

…recovered more than 600 human trafficking victims stuck in the sex industry…more than half of them were minors, and that’s only about 10 percent of the victims actually out there, [sic] Stats show there are thousands more still suffering in Alabama…

These mysterious “stats” appear again in a recent article from Alabama Public Radio, along with a lot of other whoppers and statements that are moronic even by “sex trafficking” standards.  Here’s a curated selection:

Selling people for sex or underpaid labor is considered a $150 billion business worldwide.

That figure seems to come from the personal spank-bank of “sex trafficking” profiteer Siddharth Kara, who correctly points out that it’s “more than Nike, Google, and Starbucks combined”.  The far lower claim of $13 billion was debunked four years ago by Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post‘s fact-checker, who called it “a fantasy, unconnected to any real data“, but since then we’ve seen Kara’s $150 billion fantasy popping up in tragedy porn, copaganda, rescue industry sales pitches, ambulance-chaser come-ons, politicians’ power grabs, a shockingly-bad Atlantic article, and – as you had probably guessed – previous tall tales from Alabama.

The phrase “what I want from you” is one you hear a lot from survivors of human trafficking. It’s like a code that means you’re about to enter “the life.”  That’s code too, for the world of commercial sex.

“Sex trafficking” fetishists often use the word “code”.  However, as Inigo Montoya would observe…

Human trafficking isn’t limited just to women. Both men and boys are abused, as well as members of Alabama’s LGBTQ community.  “Most of our kids identify as bisexual.  And, that’s because they’ve been sold to this person or that person, males and females.  So, they don’t know what their gender is,” said Lynn Caffery, Executive Director of the shelter Safe Harbor Youth in Huntsville…

This is so deeply stupid and so incredibly bigoted that I can’t be entirely sure, but it seems to me that Caffery is confusing bisexuality with being transgender, pretending that gender confusion is the result of bisexual experiences, and claiming that bisexuality is caused by “sex trafficking”, all at the same time.  Of course, it could be something even stupider and uglier, but I’m going to go with my initial interpretation for now.

Cybercrime analysts in Birmingham study sex traffickers when they advertise on the internet in Alabama.  This data can track sex workers who live in Alabama, and those who travel into the state like a caravan.

A gypsy whore caravan, obviously!

“So, if I can find five girls who are in Atlanta on Monday, and Birmingham on Tuesday, and Chattanooga on Wednesday, that’s something we would consider a strong indicator of trafficking,” said Gary Warner…of the UAB Computer Forensics Research Lab in Birmingham…

Because as any good “anti-trafficker” will tell you, women are much too stupid to drive, make other travel arrangements or book hotels, therefore a woman’s visiting multiple cities I could easily drive between in an afternoon is “a strong indicator of trafficking”.  But our unbelievably-credulous “journalist” has saved the most shockingly-dumb claims for the end:

Christiam Lim…[of] The University of Alabama’s College of Social Work [seems to have forgotten the number he quoted last year, or at least hopes we will.  He now claims]…nearly 1,200 victims [instead of 600, and added]…“Clearly whatever we recovering [sic] is a smaller percentage of what’s happening”…some [sexual fantasies] put the real figure at 10 times higher…closer to 12,000, just in Alabama in 2017…the College of Social Work found another number that could give an even clearer picture of trafficking in Alabama.  It’s based on when traffickers come out in the open and advertise on the internet.  Two years ago, the college counted those ads and the total was 641,000, just in Alabama, just in 2017…

Obviously, anyone with greater cognitive ability than the average barnyard fowl could understand that because any given business might post hundreds or even thousands of ads across all platforms in a year, the number of ads has no direct correlation with the number of businesses (nor is there any dependable way to derive the latter figure from the former even if it were accurate, and I sincerely doubt it is).  However, it’s much more exciting to pretend that roughly 13% of the state’s population consists of “sex slaves”; I only wish such incredible idiocy were confined to Alabama.

Links #480

Whenever I go out to Sunset, we try to spend at least one evening watching a movie stoned.  And we’ve found the best movies to watch stoned are those with a lot of music and simple plots.  Well, when I went out a couple of weeks ago this was our flick; it’s one of Grace’s favorites and if you have a good ear for musical style you may recognize the composer of the song in this trailer (who happens to be my favorite songwriter).  The links above it were provided by Clarissa, Kevin Wilson, Walter Olson, Jesse Walker, Popehat, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

In the News (#971)

You can say, “No sex without a condom”. You can say, “No sex until we’re married”.  But you can’t say, “No sex until you pay me”?…that…really undermines what consent means.  –  Katherine Sears

Bad Girls

I guess it runs in the family:

A judge found a[n Ohio] woman guilty of felony theft charges..[for] swindling an elderly war veteran out of tens of thousands of dollars before his death earlier this year.  Latasha Wisniewski, 38, used the false promise of romance to gain the trust of Charles Bauer, an 89-year-old Korean War veteran and widower, then looted much of his life’s savings in a matter of months to purchase botox injections, breast implants and butt implants…Wisniewski and her boyfriend, Daniel Scholz, are also charged with additional felony charges of misuse of credit cards in a separate case…Wisniewski’s conviction was based in part on the testimony of her aunt, 39-year-old Lisa Dotson…[who] was a home health aide charged in a separate case that accused her [of] stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from elderly and disabled clients.  She pleaded guilty to charges in both cases in August and agreed to [snitch on] Wisniewski…

Check Your Premises 

How about “women who were forced to work as cashiers were watched over by security guards so that they didn’t escape”?

South American women who were forced to work as prostitutes were watched over by security guards so that they didn’t escape.  [Cops sexually fantasized that] the 22 women were available 24 hours a day…The[y]…apparently…[worked for] two months [before]…new women would be introduced…

The word for a security guard posted to keep potentially-unruly, possibly-drunk customers in line is “bouncer”.  Bouncers in sex work establishments (such as strip clubs & brothels) are there to protect the workers, not to keep them from “escaping”.

The More the Better

Anything that helps demystify sex work is a good thing:

…attorney…Katherine Sears…began working as a prostitute three years ago, at…a…Nevada…brothel…By speaking about her experience, Sears hopes to educate people on a taboo topic…her husband John…isn’t bothered by her part-time job…Katherine…works in the brothel for three weeks before coming home to Iowa for a week…“You’re really less likely to get an STD from a prostitute than you are from the general public,” Sears said.  In the past year, she has taken time off to focus on her law practice and her 4-month-old son.  But it hasn’t stopped her from trying to break down misconceptions around prostitution…and…is so passionate about the decriminalization of prostitution, she is willing to take prostitution cases on pro bono…

Thou Shalt Not

Crypto-moralism is back in the news again lately:

…Regular consumption of soft drinks — both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened — was associated with a greater risk of all causes of death, according to research…in JAMA Internal Medicine.  Participants who drank two or more glasses of soft drinks per day had a higher risk of mortality than those who consumed less than one glass per month…two or more glasses of artificially sweetened soft drinks a day was positively associated with deaths from circulatory diseases.  For sugar-sweetened soft drinks, one or more glasses a day were associated with deaths from digestive diseases…researchers cautioned that elevated soft-drink consumption may be a marker for an overall unhealthy lifestyle.  “In our study, high soft drinks consumers had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were also more likely to be current tobacco smokers,” said the study’s chief researcher, Neil Murphy…

Given that 100% of humans die, it’s not possible for anything to lead to “a greater risk of all causes of death”.  Also, this is your reminder that “sugary” is a ’70s-era dysphemism for “sweet”, appearing at roughly the same time as “natural” became an advertising buzzword; note that while the article writer mostly used more objective language, the headline writer couldn’t resist the pejorative term.

Monsters 

This was the 17th murder of a trans person this year; the majority were black trans women:

…Bailey Reeves…A [17-year-old trans woman]…was shot and killed in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend…the…body was found by a 16-year-old who said they heard three gunshots and a girl screaming “My friend! Someone help my friend! Call 911!”…the victim was transported to a hospital where she died…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#699)

Canadians join Americans in filling kids’ heads with anti-sex propaganda:

An Ontario school board is reviewing a new curriculum that would [indoctrinate] Grade 7 and 8 students [in anti-]sex [worker propaganda]…TK Pritchard [dreamed up] the [propaganda, which includes the usual lies about how]…the average “age of entrance” to trafficking is between 12 and 14…[boyfriends are] “Romeo pimps”…love and trust of [anyone who isn’t an “authority” is bad, etc]…”Waterloo region is a hotbed for human trafficking,” said Pritchard [while stroking himself]…”a lot of curriculums [sic]…use [propaganda] from the States…our curriculum is made with Canadian [lies which are exactly the same]…Police say they [wish] more trafficking [were] happening [so they could use it as an]…intimidation tactic…[like US cops do]…

Checklist (#852) 

Though that word doesn’t appear in this story, ask yourself why a racist airline employee was interrogating passengers about a fantasized international criminal conspiracy:

…an Alaska Airlines employee [intentionally set off an alarm and] yelled “evacuate” at [Newark]…airport on Labor Day…sen[ding] 200 panicked people fleeing amid fears of a mass shooting attack…the…employee…[claimed] she believed two male passengers were acting suspiciously…Han Han Xue…was waiting…to board his delayed…flight home to San Francisco….[when] the…employee…[pushed] him from behind…then approached Chunyi Luo, a…student standing near him.  “Are you scared? Are you nervous?” Luo said she asked him.  Luo…said he told her he was feeling nervous because the flight was late…but she stood “too close” to him so he stepped a few feet away.  Then she began asking Xue questions.  She asked if he knew Luo (the two were strangers) and what his itinerary was.  She then asked, “Why are you acting suspiciously?”  Xue said he struggled to know how to respond as the questions…became more bizarre.  “How much are they paying you?…Did they give you a visa?  Did they give your family a visa?  Do you make a lot of money?  Do you work on Wall Street?  Are you on an American visa?”…Xue..a [Canadian] citizen [who] works as a product designer at Lyft…said…he felt like he was being racially targeted and harassed, so he…join[ed] the passengers boarding the flight, hoping she’d bother someone else.  But she followed him, saying, “I’m onto you guys. The cops are already called”…[she then] yelled, “Evacuate, evacuate!” and pressed an emergency alarm…Xue ran with the crowd to another gate and…Luo [did too because he] believed there was a shooter…

The employee didn’t dream up these rude, prying questions herself; they’re the type of questions the mandated “training program” urges employees to harass brown people with in order to “fight sex trafficking”.

Pyrrhic Victory (#964)

The fascist establishment thinks nobody should have any privacy, even in their own thoughts:

A new frontier in lie detection is now emerging…projects are using AI to combine multiple sources of evidence into a single measure for deception.  Machine learning is accelerating deception research by spotting previously unseen patterns in reams of data…The algorithms behind such tools are designed to improve continuously over time, and may ultimately end up basing their determinations of guilt and innocence on factors that even the humans who have programmed them don’t understand.  These tests are being trialled in job interviews, at border crossings and in police inter[rogations]…the frontline for much of the new government-funded lie detection technology has been the borders of the US and Europe…the Avatar unit has a microphone, an infra-red eye-tracking camera and an Xbox Kinect sensor to measure body movement…[the system displays a creep cartoon “agent” to distract and unsettle subjects and] uses an algorithm to combine all of these types of data…to send a verdict to a human border guard within 45 seconds, who can either wave the traveller through or pull them aside for additional screening…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#965) 

Will porn companies be the next to face the music for exploiting sex workers?

…nearly two dozen young women say that they responded to Craigslist ads seeking models and were then tricked into performing in internet pornography…producers behind a website called Girls Do Porn…were seeking women to make so-called amateur porn…Respondents…were directed to innocuous websites, with pictures of clothed women, that asked for their contact information and photographs.  Instead of being offered modeling jobs…they were offered roughly $5,000 to make pornography…[that] producers [claimed]…would be distributed only on DVD outside of the United States and would never be published online…[instead] the videos [were published] online, on Girls Do Porn…[and] also distributed to major sites, like Pornhub.  Shortly after the videos were posted, the women’s names and identifying information popped up on a [now-defunct] site called PornWikileaks, which [doxxes] people who have done porn…The women are seeking $22 million in damages…[and] their videos removed from the website…

We Need Your Help

Today is Friday the Thirteenth, which as long-time readers know is the day I ask non-sex workers to stand up for our rights.  This is not the first such occasion since the passage of FOSTA, but it’s the first one in 14 months (though we’ll see another in December, as is the case every time we get one in September), and it’s the first one since the topic became politically “safe” for the cowards who want to be called “leaders” to bring up in public.  The latter point is, I think, extremely important; one of the reasons so many outside the demimonde are afraid to stand up for the obvious fact that the government has no business “regulating” private sexual arrangements is they’re afraid of guilt by association.  And this is by no means a foolish dread, because prohibitionists absolutely will not hesitate to accuse any woman who defends sex worker rights of being a whore herself, and any man who defends them of being a client.  But now that even the hang-to-the-rear political crowd is talking about it, the prohis have only got so many fingers to point; anyone who wants to help but is still shy can share any number of pro-decrim articles in major media outlets.  There are plenty of ideas on how you can help in previous columns for this occasion, and I strongly encourage you to look at those.  But as usual, the best way you can help, better than any other, is money.  As I wrote last year, “donate to SWOP-USA, to SWOP Behind Bars, to the EFF or Woodhull Foundation to support their anti-FOSTA lawsuit, to individual activists (because traveling around the country to do this work is much more expensive than you might think), or to sex workers who have been harmed by increasing censorship of our ads.”  This is especially critical because, as you may have noticed, the orange-utang’s deranged trade war has already caused enough damage to the economy that bookings are falling and sex workers are getting worried.  As I’ve explained before, election years are always bad for business, and any old-timer like me can tell you that election years in a bad economy can be devastating.  Add to that the advertising chaos caused by FOSTA and the wanton destruction of Backpage, and the climate of fear among clients engendered by constant and ever-intensifying pogroms, and we have a recipe for what could possibly be the worst year for sex workers in the 35 that I’ve been paying attention to it.  As I wrote in “Straight Talk“,

I understand you may be nervous about the political situation; well, we are too.  And if you profess to care about us, you need to step up and be generous.  So, book a session with your ATF.  Book one with a lady you know has kids.  Book one with a lady you like, but haven’t seen in a while.  Book with a male escort you’ve been wanting to see.  Book with a domme or FBSM pro you’ve had your eye on.  Book with me or any of the other sex workers you see me interact with online…If you don’t have time to book but still want to help, most sex workers have PayPal or Patreon or some such you can use to give them a monetary token of appreciation.  Because there isn’t a single one of us who won’t be grateful for it right now.

As I’ve often pointed out, we are winning in the court of public opinion.  But that takes time, and we’re now in the “getting worse before it gets better” stage.  So if the sex workers you care about and the activists you admire are going to make it through to the end, we’re going to need your help in every way you can give it.

The Last One!

Remember the special edition Ladies of the Night with a unique hand-drawn sketch by Chester Brown, signed by both Chester and me?  Well, there’s now only one left!  It’s #6 in the edition, featuring the sketch shown here, and it’s available in my store until it’s sold.  So if you want one, this is your last chance and I wouldn’t wait much longer!  While you’re in the store, you might consider buying an autographed copy of one or both books, assuming you don’t already have one.  I’m also going to start selling The War on Whores DVDs there soon, and if you can help with my fundraiser it might speed up the process of generating more buzz about this important documentary.

In the News (#970)

Court[s]…allow…prosecutors to punish teens for the terrible things [others] have done to them.  –  Tim Cushing

Bad Girls

Why is “attractive” in scare quotes?

Men arriving at a [house in] Plant City [Florida] with the expectation of meeting a woman were instead beaten, robbed and even tortured…Hispanic [victims] were lured…under the guise of “socializing with an attractive female.”  The woman did indeed meet each victim in the driveway, but once they were inside…the men were “viciously tortured” while being beaten and robbed.  Then, they were forced to drive their own cars to ATMs around Plant City to withdraw money for the [gang], all under the threat that their families would be harmed if they did not cooperate…[the gang then] released the victims but kept their cars…two men and two women [have] been arrested on charges related to kidnapping, robbery, and battery: Thomas Nolasco, Joshua Rodriguez, Carina Bailon, and Melissa Long; a warrant is out for the arrest of James T. Smith…

Feminine Pragmatism 

It’s good to see that the media is beginning to grasp this:

When I saw an ad for topless waitresses at double the minimum wage plus tips, it seemed like a sign from the universe…The job was a vast improvement over motel housekeeping.  On the first night, I earned an entire month’s rent money and, more importantly, bouncers made sure no one touched the staff…years later, I looked back and realized, “Oh, that was sex work.”  Once I’d recognized that, I also understood what I’d been doing when I was earning groceries…The only difference between sex work and other work is that American culture continues to place a high moral value on amorphous concepts like…sexual purity.  I was supposed to be ashamed of my topless waitressing, because my hypothetical future husband wouldn’t like the idea of a hundred half-drunk soldiers staring at my breasts on a Saturday night.  My body was supposed to belong to a man I wouldn’t meet for another 10 years…sex work is not some great fall from respectability.  It’s often the net that catches people before they fall into destitution…Sex work has the power to lift people out of poverty, because you don’t need a college degree, and it almost always pays more than minimum wage…

Buried Truth

I think we have enough evidence to start calling this “McNeill’s Law”:

The founder of one of the nation’s largest conversion therapy programs, who spent decades leading the organization, now says he is gay, apologizing for his role in the practice.  McKrae Game, who founded and led Hope for Wholeness in South Carolina, publicly announced he was gay in early June, more than two years after the organization’s board of directors abruptly fired him…

Under Every Bed (#615)

Possibly the silliest “King of the Hill” claimant ever:

The FBI says human trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world.  Rockford ranks tenth in the United States and second in the state when it comes to trafficking victims.  According to advocates for Rockford’s Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, or RAASE, one reason why Rockford is high on those lists is because of its location in the Midwest, making it a central hub for human trafficking…

The idea that a declining industrial city could be a “sex tourism” destination is right up there with the claim that any serious adult calls Milwaukee “the Harvard of sex trafficking“.

Banishment (#802)

Few states are as sociopathic as Florida in maltreating people on a Sacred Government List:

…in Florida…people [condemned to] the [“sex offender”] registry were barred from shelters [during Hurricane Dorian]…if they attempted to stay with friends or relatives, they faced daunting residency and registration requirements…in Flagler [and Nassau] Count[ies, they]…were directed to…seek shelter in the county jail…Under Florida law, those who evacuate must register their temporary addresses, in person, at the sheriff’s office if they will be away from home for three or more days.  They are also required to [pay to change] their driver’s license or identification card with the temporary address within 48 hours of their departure date [and then pay again to change it back when they return home]…failing to comply with [these] requirements [could result in]…five years in prison…

I guess Florida “officials” enjoy getting sued over this, because they keep doing it.

Guinea Pigs (#884) 

Facebook policies prohibit the creation of fake accounts by law enforcement, but pigs make them anyway and Facebook does nothing about it:

Facebook said…that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be violating the company’s rules if agents create fake profiles to monitor the social media of foreigners seeking to enter the country…Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack…said the company has communicated its concerns and its policies on the use of fake accounts to DHS.  She said the company will shut down fake accounts, including those belonging to [duplicitous pigs and spooks], when they are reported…

But until they’re reported by others, you can bet Facebook won’t be looking very hard.

Saving Them From Themselves (#942)

Oink oink, she was on the wrong side of an imaginary line, so we have to destroy her life!  SHAZAM!

In 2016, a 16-year-old Maryland student known as S.K….sent a brief cellphone video to two friends…A few months later, S.K. had a falling-out with one recipient of the video, a 17-year-old boy known as K.S…[who] reported the video to the school [pig], Eugene CaballeroCaballero took [SK’s] statement and passed it on to state prosecutors [who of course did what prosecutors do]…S.K…was found guilty…as a distributor of child pornography…S.K. challenged the sentence, pointing out that the law does not provide for charging the subject of alleged child porn with child pornography production…The court looks at the law and decides the legislative intent was to treat minors as their own pornographers…The dissent says this is [clearly insane]…

Forward and Backward (#947)

Moral panics make it so easy for pathetic twits to gain a sense of importance; all they need to do is be willing to make up a lot of ridiculous and evidence-free lies about how they were “almost snatched by a pimp”, about “signs of sex trafficking”, about small cities being “sex trafficking hubs”,  about magic numbers and words that “end demand”, and naturally about how looking at pictures of naked people magically creates “slavery”.  And the hoi-polloi just gobble it up, no matter how deeply stupid it is to anyone who lives in the real world.

Torture Chamber (#966)

The government calls this “correction”:

A brutal beating by four guards inside Florida’s largest women’s prison has left a woman…paralyzed for life, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit…four [screws]…slammed her to the ground and began beating her.  At least one…elbowed the back of her neck…then [the four] dragged Weimar “like a rag doll” to an area not covered by surveillance cameras and continued beating her nearly to death…She is now a quadriplegic and…hospitalized with a breathing tube…the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has blocked Weimar’s attorney and her husband from taking pictures of her injuries…

Pyrrhic Victory (#969)

Surely you didn’t think Amazon’s two nastiest privacy-violation schemes would stay separate for long?

…Amazon loooooves to play word-games…[it claims] cops only get access to Ring customers’ videos if the customers offer to share it; but what they never said is that if a customer turns down a police [demand], Amazon instructs the cops to make an “official request” to the company and then they grant warrantless access to the footage…a[n anonymous] Ring spokesperson…[said] “Ring is not Rekognition and does not work with Rekognition”…[yet] there’s a dude at Ring Ukraine named Oleksandr Obiednikov whose title is “head of face recognition research” and who has given conference talks on how facial recognition can integrate with products like Ring.  The company’s filed multiple facial recognition patents, and its terms of service allow it to use the video from your doorbell to train facial recognition systems.  Oh, and they’ve recently advertised job openings for engineers with experience in facial recognition…

And remember, Amazon is trying to add “emotion detection” to its facial recognition.

Diary #480

Last week was a short but busy one.  It was short because I didn’t come back from Sunset until Tuesday (to avoid the nightmarish traffic from all the squares coming back from the coast on “Labor Day” to be back in their cubicles by Tuesday morning), and it was busy because nearly every night involved a multi-hour engagement of one kind or another.  On Thursday Daedalus took me to a concert by a Beatles cover band to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road; I enjoyed it immensely and it didn’t even make me feel old (not older than I already feel, anyhow).  On Saturday Lorelei held a combination birthday party and long-delayed housewarming, then on Sunday some of us held an end-of-summer barbecue.  As regular readers know, the return of shorter days and cooler weather is definitely a cause for celebration for me; I’m already feeling a lot less anxious, and I’m getting better at using edibles to manage my stress.  So that’s all I have to say right now, except to remind everyone in the Washington DC area that I’ll be back on September 26th for a reception for The War on Whores at the Reason magazine offices!  The event is free but you need to register, and if you’d like to see me professionally while I’m there we can arrange it as long as you let me know by the beginning of that week at the very latest (preferably sooner).