Posts Tagged ‘A Manufactured War’

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom: it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.  –  William Pitt

Nine updates and two meta-updates; two other news stories from this week will be treated in greater depth in my columns for April 29th and May 6th.

The Camel’s Nose (October 2nd, 2010)

Meet CISPA, formerly known as SOPA, alias PIPA, née COICA:

…some people are calling it “worse than SOPA,” and it’s sponsored by a congressman who thinks the death penalty should be considered for Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking military information to Wikileaks.  Be worried:  they think we stopped paying attention after SOPA — so they made…the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (PDF) (aka H.R. 3523)…[which] has the support of companies such as AT&T, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft…and many more.  A full list of all 28 corporate supporters is here.  The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), is also trying to get tech press to tell you…CISPA is “nothing like SOPA.”  Don’t believe it.  CISPA’s primary function is to remove legal barriers that might keep Internet companies from giving all your communication and information to the government.  It allows “cyber entities” (such as Internet service providers, social networks like Facebook and cell phone companies like AT&T) to circumvent Internet privacy laws when they’re pressured by Homeland Security to hand over or shut down — well, almost anything of yours online that the government wants, no warrant needed…

Here’s a handy graphic (click to enlarge) you can download or link and spread everywhere, and here’s a very comprehensive “tool kit” from Anonymous.  Don’t ignore this, y’all; the fascists figured out they needed to give more to the big tech companies, so this time we have to defeat it without corporate support.

To Protect and Serve (February 9th, 2011)

Another sex worker murdered by cops, and another victim of so-called “non-lethal” tasers:

Adult performer Sledge Hammer…[whose legal name was Marland Anderson, died on April 13th] after…police…shot [him numerous times] with a Taser…Anderson…“had a mild form of schizophrenia, and it wasn’t a problem until he started smoking pot and taking various things for depression,” [friend and film director Stoney] Curtis explained…On Sunday night…Anderson suffered a severe anxiety attack and his girlfriend, adult performer Alexa Cruz, called 911 to prevent him from harming himself…police showed up with an ambulance and…“instead of trying to talk to him or grab him and get him to the ground, or the paramedics giving him a sedative, they decided to break out their tasers and just tasered him excessively until the point where he went into cardiac arrest,” Curtis said…

Once again:  never, ever call the cops for any reason, not even if you think you’re dying.  Because once you do, they think you are their personal property to dispose of in any way they wish.

Not the Same Tree (February 18th, 2011)

This article about a Scottish escort service owner convicted of “human trafficking” is a perfect illustration of how the warped minds of police, prosecutors and prohibitionists project crime and evil into everything they see, and how they and their media lackeys use dysphemisms, distortion and exaggeration to create monsters out of businesspeople:

Scotland’s first convicted sex trafficker…revealed the secrets of the seedy vice empire that raked in a fortune – before landing him in jail.  Stephen Craig…described how he and…Sarah Beukan…ran their infamous Scottish Elite Escorts and recruited girls to join their prostitution ring.  Craig also claimed that footballers, actors and comedians were among the biggest clients…and…admitted taking a third of the money paid by punters to his girls…Craig denied making threats to girls or forcing them to sell their bodies…a police officer claimed one witness said Craig threatened to pour boiling water down her throat…But Sheriff Sam Clark said there was “no pressure, force or threat” on women who worked for him.  Craig now faces a proceeds of crime investigation.  He said…“Police say Sarah and I made £20,000 a week…[but actually] we probably split about £5000 on a good week”…

“Seedy vice empire”.  “Infamous”. “Prostitution ring”.  “Sell their bodies”.  “Taking money” to mean “charging fees”.  The lurid accusations totally unsupported by fact, and the wild exaggeration of his income so the cops can steal more of his property and savings.  I wish there were some way to make these asses fully cognizant of how  ridiculous they’re going to look once Western society fully awakens from “sex trafficking” hysteria.

Give It a Rest (August 18th, 2011)

Remember the Texas strip club which cops were trying to destroy via harassment of dancers and customers?  Apparently, they either succeeded in driving the owner over the edge or else just decided to get rid of him by the time-honored method of framing:

Ryan Walker Grant, co-owner of Flashdancer topless club in Arlington, was arrested after an FBI investigation revealed he tried to hire Mexican hitmen to kill two Arlington city officials whom he blamed for the closure of his business…Grant [allegedly told the FBI plant that]…he stood to lose $800,000 a year if Flashdancers closed for good…

Follow Your Bliss (November 29th, 2011)

Though most “child sex slave” fetishists restrict themselves to writing lurid newspaper stories, this one sought the opportunity for “hands-on” experience “helping” underage hookers:

A counselor at a new…shelter for prostituted children groped and propositioned a girl there…prosecutors in Seattle contend Ralph Nathaniel Wells accosted the then-16-year-old girl in late January.  Wells, 32, had been employed by the shelter as an overnight counselor…the girl said Wells called her out of her room several times…[and] made inappropriate comments and sexual advances, pulled on her clothing and touched her.  Wells was suspended without pay immediately…

Obviously Wells bought his own organization’s propaganda that the girl was “prostituted” (i.e. a passive object without volition) and a “child”, and therefore too stupid and helpless to turn him down and report his sleazy behavior.

Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2011)

I got two new presents this week!  On Monday I received a copy of Never On Sunday from Martin English, and on Tuesday a new book named The Origins of Sex from another reader who prefers to remain anonymous.  Thank you both so very much!

An Angel of Mercy (January 25th, 2012)

You don’t have to be a Catholic nun to do outreach to streetwalkers; Cyndee Clay is a lapsed Mormon who heads Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) in Washington, DC.  In this interview with Metro Weekly she talks about sex work stigma, “prostitution-free zones”, police harassment, harm reduction and the services HIPS provides, including “weekly support groups…daily maintenance groups for active drug users…case management, linkage to care and services, including HIV testing and drop-in syringe access…our bad-date sheet” and condom distribution.

Much Ado About Nothing (April 18th, 2012)

Well, the story’s beginning to make a lot more sense now; it turns out the argument wasn’t over $47 as initially reported, but rather $770 (the difference between the $800 fee Agent Asshole agreed to and the $30 he tried to give her instead).  Some of the agents are now making the sophomoric claim that they didn’t know their dates were whores, which is not only unbelievable to anyone in the know, but also flies in the face of reports that they met the women in a brothel.  And Dania (the lady who was cheated) insists that contrary to what the bouncer and cops claim, the agents were very discreet and she had no idea they were Secret Service.

But despite media efforts to sex up the story and to overdramatize its importance (“Eleven Secret Service agents…and nine military servicemen are under investigation for hiring 20 or 21 hookers”) the American people seem refreshingly unmoved.  My own perceptions and those of several of my sources indicate that more people are concerned with the agent’s trying to cheat a sex worker than the fact that he hired her.  A reporter who interviewed me yesterday (I’m not sure when it will appear) felt that the real story was that Colombia’s system protects women by allowing them access to police, and a Vanity Fair article which quotes yours truly points out that the whole scandal is a convenient misdirection from the issues of the Cartagena summit, which Washington doesn’t want the public thinking too hard about.  Spirit Airlines mocked the scandal in a promotion, and Dennis Hof of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch opined that Secret Service agents should only hire American whores.  But most interesting (and heartening) of all is the reaction in many mainstream media sources (including Forbes), which might be synopsized in the words used by Reason’s J.D. Tuccille: “Maybe, just maybe, we could stop pretending that exchanging money for sex is such a terrible thing.”

Hard Numbers (April 20th, 2012)

Brazil follows the example of our friends Down Under in recognizing that it is attempts to ban or regulate prostitution that cause the problems “authorities” associate with it, and that decriminalization is the best way to eliminate those issues:

A proposal before the Senate…[eliminates] criminal penalties for owners of brothels.  The legal experts…want to end what they call the moral “cynicism” of the current legislation.  In practice, they say, the ban on brothels only serves to corrupt police who extort money and services from the owners of the establishments…Prostitution itself is not illegal in Brazil, nor is it regulated by the government…the change will…permit labor unions to establish a link between the employees and the employer as is the norm in countries such as Germany and Holland.  ”It is a historical claim to the movement for prostitutes,” [said] Roberto Dominguez…legal advisor to the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes…


Counterfeit Comfort in That Was the Week That Was (#8) (February 26th, 2012)

In their quest for absolute power over the lives of their subjects, politicians can’t let little things like justice, decency or the law stop them.  After a federal judge overturned a Louisiana law banning victims of the “sex offender” registry from social media, tyrants in New York realized the same thing would probably happen if they enacted a similar law, so they used political pressure to force online companies to do their dirty work for them:

Back in 2008, New York passed a law requiring…sex offenders to register all email addresses and social network accounts with the government…[now] Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has  announced the first wave of an initiative called “Operation: Game Over”…[in which] over 3500 sex offenders’ online gaming accounts with companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Blizzard have been banned completely.  AG Schneiderman applauds the effort with “We must ensure online video game systems do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators. That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming networks as a vehicle to prey on underage victims”…[But as] the New York Civil Liberties Union [points out]…“the problem…is almost non-existent. Children are almost always abused by people they know – a friend or family member – not by people they interact with while playing video games online.

…Not only are these people blocked from playing with children through these services, they are also blocked from playing with friends and family members.  We are further eroding the ability for these people to reintegrate themselves with society, and for what?  While New York and those gaming companies that partnered with the state continue the witch hunt, they will surely earn some brownie points with parents.  After all, that is really what matters in an election year…Who cares if justice is actually being served?  Sex offenders are expendable.  They aren’t real people.  At least you can keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.

A Manufactured War in That Was the Week That Was (#15) (April 14th, 2012)

While I contended myself with dispatching the New York Times’ scare story on “sex trafficking” in Spain via a quick shotgun blast, Dr. Laura Agustín preferred to vivisect it instead.  I think you’ll find the result well worth your time.

One Year Ago Today

Faerie Tale” is exactly that…but probably not in the way you’re thinking.

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The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.  –  James Madison

Ten updates and two meta-updates.

Welcome To Our World (January 20th, 2011)

Who else besides prostitutes and drug users are abducted and caged “for their own good”?

A 17-year-old suspected rape victim is being held in a California juvenile detention facility to ensure that she’ll show up to testify against her attacker…“The last thing we ever want to do is put a victim or a witness in custody, but when you have serious crimes of violence and multiple offenses, you have to balance the protection of the community,” [said the]…assistant district attorney…

Once again:  never, ever call the cops for any reason, not even if you think you’re dying.  Because once you do, they think you are their personal property to dispose of in any way they wish.

A Manufactured War (January 23rd, 2011)

In the grand tradition of William Randolph Hearst, the New York Times doesn’t just report the news; it exaggerates, distorts and lies in order to make a “good story”.  And since it’s been on an anti-whore hobby horse for several years now, that means stuff like this:

…While the rest of Spain’s economy may be struggling, experts say that prostitution — almost all of it involving the ruthless trafficking of foreign women — is booming…powered in large part by the desires of young men…The State Department’s 2010 report on trafficking said that 200,000 to 400,000 women worked in prostitution in Spain…[and] 90 percent were trafficked…

No, “experts” say no such thing; those who promote this kind of garbage are mostly just making it up, either pulling numbers from thin air or using overly-broad definitions (such as defining any hooker who works in an area other than her native soil as “trafficked”) and then embellishing the numbers with unwarranted adjectives like “ruthless” and presenting scare stories as “fact”.  For more Times duplicity, see “Feet of Clay” below.

Neither Cold Nor Hot (April 6th, 2011)

Once in a while, Jezebel stands up for sex workers; too bad it isn’t more often:

Sex workers are anti sex-trafficking.  It seems obvious…and yet you might not know this because sex workers rights activists have not gotten any air-time from the major anti-trafficking organizations…shutting down advertising sites…means losing the ability to screen clients beforehand…SWOP and other sex worker advocacy groups have ideas around what could actually help trafficking…

Don’t Take My Word For It (September 29th, 2011)

Three German students may have discovered the secret to heterosexual male prostitution:  don’t charge anything or expect much business:

…three business students from the University of Mannheim…offer…female students uncomplicated and anonymous one-night stands…posters…promise “Good Grades through Good Sex.”  The young men claim that their project is about emancipation…and…should be recognized as more than a mere coital campaign…Female students who spend their evenings drained and fatigued in the library and are in the mood for a little closeness and intimacy are encouraged to send an email.  Then one of the three men will meet with them…[they] claim that five one-night-stands have taken place so far…

Scapegoats (January 26th, 2012)

Since this report is several years old and was not available on any mainstream news site, I suspect it’s an urban legend circulated among animal-rights types;  supposedly an orangutan named Pony was “rescued” from a rural brothel in Borneo, where she was employed as a prostitute and shaved several times a week to make her more presentable.  Unless someone manages to dig up a properly-documented article, I must point out that claiming huge numbers of men would pay for sex with an ape seems closely akin to the notion that similar numbers want sex with traumatized prepubescent girls:  both are prohibitionist myths intended to smear men in general and whores’ clients in particular.

The Immunity Syndrome (March 5th, 2012)

Here’s an unsurprising report showing that American states with “abstinence-only” sex education have the highest teen pregnancy rates:

The number of teen births in the U.S. dropped again in 2010…to about 34 per 1,000 girls… Mississippi continues to have the  highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls.  New Hampshire has the lowest rate at just under 16 births per 1,000 girls.  This is the lowest national rate for teen births since…1940…Researchers…found that teenagers who received…comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant.  And in 2007, a federal report showed that abstinence-only programs had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.”  But 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence, 26 of which require that abstinence be stressed as the best method…research shows that [these] deter contraceptive use  among teenagers, thus increasing…risk of unintended pregnancy…

Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)

Naomi Wolf’s analysis of the TSA’s true motivation is much like mine:

…this week, the Supreme Court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor…Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because [one of the 9/11 conspirators] could have been stopped for speeding.  How would strip searching him have prevented the attack?  Did Justice Kennedy imagine that plans to blow up the twin towers had been concealed in a body cavity?  In still more bizarre non-logic, his and the other justices’ decision rests on concerns about weapons and contraband in prison systems.  But people under arrest – that is, who are not yet convicted – haven’t been introduced into a prison population.  Our surveillance state shown considerable determination to intrude on citizens sexually…the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations.  The political use of forced nudity by anti-democratic regimes is long established.  Forcing people to undress is the first step in breaking down their sense of individuality and dignity and reinforcing their powerlessness…the TSA…genital groping policy…is designed to psychologically habituate US citizens to a condition in which they are demeaned and sexually intruded upon by the state…

Useful Idiots (March 15th, 2012)

More evidence for those who still don’t accept that neofeminist propaganda denying the agency of prostitutes and other non-neofeminist women is inevitably used to classify all women as passive, infantile moral imbeciles:

[Wisconsin governor] Scott Walker…quietly signed three controversial bills on the eve of a holiday weekend…A woman seeking an abortion must [now] undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family.  The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure…

Mandatory prosecution laws for domestic violence and Swedish-flavored anti-prostitution laws have established the precedent that women are incompetent to make any decision which involves sex, and that if a woman makes a decision “authorities” don’t like it must be the result of coercion.  This merely follows that precedent to its next logical step; look for more like it in upcoming months.

Feet of Clay (April 5th, 2012)

Thanks to Jacob Sullum of Reason for pointing out this excellent article:

…[Nicholas] Kristof’s own newspaper profits from the sort of advertising for escort services, strip clubs, and other forms of adult entertainment that Kristof has linked to the underworld of child sex trafficking…About.com is “a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York Times Company”…[which] accounted for 5% of all [company] revenues…in 2011, roughly $100 million…the Times also owns a 49% stake in Metro Boston…[which] also happens to make money from  adult advertising…[Kristof’s] salary partly comes from the same ads, and the same allegedly criminal activity, that he tried to pin on Goldman Sachs…Though [it] immediately divested itself of its stake in Backpage.com, that was not enough for Kristof, who told CNBC he would have preferred to see the company apply its investment towards “bringing about change” in the online advertising industry.  He added that Goldman Sachs should have sold its 16 percent stake in Village Voice Media to “an anti-trafficking organization.”  Will Kristof apply that same standard to the New York Times–and himself?  The newspaper and its shareholders must give up over $100 million in annual revenue; are they ready to contribute to the cause?  And if not, will Kristof devote his column to campaigning against his employer?  Will he appear on CNBC to report “The Times‘ Ties to Sex Trafficking?”  If not, why not?

The Notorious Badge (April 9th, 2012)

In the TV movie The Client List Jennifer Love Hewitt played a mother who becomes an erotic masseuse to make ends meet, and the movie proved so popular it is now a series.  I have been told the character and her work are portrayed positively, and this interview with the actress leads me to believe that:

Since the movie has come out and with the upcoming show, have you been approached or contacted by any women who work in the sex industry?

No, I haven’t.  I mean, I’m sure maybe once the show starts airing a bit, I might be able to meet some of those women or they might feel more comfortable to come up and say hello and have open discussions about those things…I feel like [prejudices come]…from lack of knowledge and fear and maybe not knowing the whole story…the more that you look into those industries, a lot of those women are single moms doing the best that they can or are someone’s daughter who fell on hard times…of course, some of them…just chose it because that’s what they wanted to do…I respect people doing what they have to do in order to try to live and be happy…

I sent a message to Miss Hewitt offering to answer any questions she might have, but haven’t heard back yet.  The comment thread is a story in its own right; it’s full of holier-than-thou comments from the pompous windbags who apparently infest the massage profession nowadays, as discussed in “Full of Themselves”.


An Ounce of Prevention in That Was the Week That Was (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

More on Michael Weinstein’s campaign against an anti-HIV drug:

…Thanks to Weinstein’s “leadership” [AHF has] gone from a sizeable healthcare foundation with a good reputation to…a…joke…

A leading AIDS group is battling with FDA over whether the agency should approve the first drug for preventing HIV infection in gay men, and the fight has gotten nasty…the AIDS Healthcare Foundation called for Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to resign over that and other issues, perhaps including egos…Truvada cut the HIV infection in men who have sex with men by 44 percent compared to a placebo…So far, the drug has not been found to work in women…Weinstein worries that the promise of a “magic pill” could reverse progress the AIDS community has made in encouraging condom use over decades…

Mr. Weinstein is actually the only one who’s been branding Truvada as a magic pill, and he’s been citing half truths [and] his own botched survey…Nobody else…has been calling this anything other than…a drug with a promising potential that needs to be truly and thoroughly studied…Maybe it’s time for the AHF to consider whether or not the $366,046 a year they are paying Weinstein is money well spent.  Charles Lyons II at Glaser makes exactly $1023 less than Weinstein for running an organization twice the size and scope.  And he’s not wasting his group’s time and efforts trying to derail patient care…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not in That Was the Week That Was (#14) (April 6th, 2012)

Dr. Laura Agustín published two excellent articles on Gloria Steinem’s recent attempt to appoint herself an expert on “prostitution and sex trafficking” in India; her April 6th column discusses Steinem’s many errors, clichés, distortions, biases and moralistic assumptions, including her bizarre description of sex as “body invasion” (apparently a melodramatic twist on Robin Morgan’s ridiculous definition of rape).  And on April 9th, Agustín describes an absurd tabloid-style news article glorifying Steinem and other White Saviors descending upon India to “rescue” sex workers “with money and might”.

One Year Ago Today

The Pro-Rape Coalition” demonstrates why those who call themselves “anti-porn” are in reality pro-rape.

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Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves. –  Eric Hoffer

Another round of short articles which examine topics we’ve raised before; this time, purely by coincidence, they’re all about propaganda (the first good and the rest bad).

Election Day (November 2nd)

In November I told you about a proposed law in the state of New York which would prohibit police and prosecutors from using condoms as “evidence of prostitution”.  Well, apparently the vote on it must be getting close because the Sex Workers Project recently released this public service announcement encouraging people to contact their representatives to urge their support for the measure.  As I wrote in the previous column, this is important even to those of us who don’t live in New York because if it passes there, “health advocacy groups will no doubt try it in other civil-rights-friendly legislatures and even cops in other states may abandon the procedure for fear that prostitutes’ defense attorneys may use the proven legal arguments which established those laws in challenges elsewhere.”

Welcome To Our World (January 20th)

Here’s another example of others (in this case, porn again) having to deal with the same kind of ridiculous attacks, bogus statistics and character assassination as we whores have to; it was published in Huffington Post on February 18th:

No conclusive data exists on the harm pornography does directly to the men (or women) who view it, or to the partners of men (or women) who view it.  It seems unlikely that such data ever will come to be.  It’s been four decades since the…[President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography] found no connection between violent behavior and consumption of pornography, but then-president Richard Nixon — much like today’s radical feminists — summarily rejected that conclusion because it didn’t fit his personal ideology.  After 40 years promoting a movement devoid of scientific evidence, anti-porn activists are becoming increasingly desperate for ways to persuade the unconvinced public that sex on film is our greatest cultural threat.  Consequently, their arguments are increasingly ludicrous.  The most recent example is courtesy of Gail Dines and her horror over young ladies’ pubic grooming habits.

In a piece for The Guardian…Dines…claim[s] that (presumably straight) young women who don’t want to have sex simply don’t shave…know[ing] their porn-accustomed male dates will be so horrified by pubic hair that consenting to get naked…is…out of the question…such a convoluted tale renders college-attending young women into pitiful, self-hating shells unable to defend themselves from the second-hand tyranny of the dominant porn aesthetic…

This is Gail Dines. Any guesses why she hates porn?

…Is this what feminism looks like, the sober assertion that when women old enough to legally marry, drive and vote decide that “saying no is too difficult,” our best response is to outlaw sex on film?…Anti-porn activists do not want a more inclusive, egalitarian, respectful sex industry.  They want no sex industry at all, and they’ll say whatever they think will bring about such an outcome.  To claim that eliminating sexually explicit material makes young women more comfortable with their bodies and more empowered to make decisions about their sexual lives is insultingly facile.  But as sex educators have pointed out, Dines’s goal is…to create moral panic…but in an age when female adult performers have their own Twitter feeds, blogs and memoirs to affirm their lucidity and free will, it’s much harder to press the old “all women in porn are abused victims!” lie that dominated discourse in the 1980s…

…In [Gail Dines’] world, women are not human beings capable of asserting their own preferences or declining to conform to the preferences of others.  They are completely cowed by men and they only derive confidence from conforming to the most stringent of male requirements.  I have a hard time believing many porn films are more misogynistic than that grotesque disavowal of female intelligence, capability and self-respect.  And I have a hard time trusting someone who thinks so little of women with making decisions about what policies are best for furthering women’s development.

Change a few words and names, and it’s about anti-prostitution fanatics; the last paragraph barely needs to be changed at all.

A Manufactured War (January 23rd)

It looks as though CNN is still channeling the spirit of William Randolph Hearst; the only way I can see for them to sink any lower would be to pay for their own Schapiro Group “study” or hire actresses to portray “rescued sex slaves” for the cameras.

Maggie in the Media (February 3rd)

Most of you probably read Pete Kotz’s article about the Super Bowl hooker invasion myth for which Yours Truly was interviewed (and if you haven’t, why not?)  Well, his follow-up appeared Monday night and though I’m not mentioned in it, it’s every bit as entertaining as the first and well worth your time and commentary!

Life Imitates Artifice (February 15th)

In the referenced column I pointed out that, while trafficking hysterics don’t do a damned thing for real sex slaves, their propaganda inspires creeps and criminals.  And as I recently discovered on this Russian news website, it also makes us look pretty bad internationally (especially in countries whose journalists were conditioned for decades not to question their sources).  Good going, trafficking fanatics!  Let’s see how much more damage you can do before you’re swept into the dustbin of history along with all the previous witch hunts.

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You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war. –  William Randolph Hearst

The most disgusting aspect of witch-hunts is the way that everyone from the village idiot to the pillar of the community jumps on the bandwagon; the most horrifying aspect is the way in which anyone who refuses to participate in the hunt is implicated as a target, and the saddest aspect is the way in which innocents whom the hunters pretend to defend are actually victimized by them.  All three aspects are demonstrated in this CNN story on “child sex trafficking” which was linked by Jill Brenneman in Bound Not Gagged earlier today.

At one time, CNN was a respectable news agency, but like most of the popular media it has devolved into yellow journalism and now focuses on promoting scandal, hysteria and outright lies while largely ignoring real news.  Like the sensationalized newspapers of the 1890s, CNN and other modern media outlets prefer to create news rather than reporting it, and never let the facts get in the way of their crusades.  But genuine international wars have fallen out of fashion, so modern yellow journalists prefer to create or intensify wars against individuals – in other words, witch-hunts –  rather than traditional wars as Hearst and Company did.  And as I’m sure most of you know, the most popular war right now is the one on prostitution, disguised as a fight against “child trafficking” so as to get around the inconvenient fact that the vast majority of prostitutes (about 96.46% by New Zealand estimates) are adults who practice the trade voluntarily.  Attacking the sexual choices of adult women might be recognized as incredibly misogynistic, but “protecting children” can never be questioned.

The CNN article, as is typical for trafficking propaganda, conflates prostitution with sexual slavery and adults with children; it gives police abuses of prostitutes a free pass under the aegis of “battling traffickers” while ignoring the repeated offers of help from the sex-work community.  It pretends that rare cases are the norm and is larded with inflammatory language and emotionally-loaded terminology, and could practically serve as a catalog of logical fallacies.  The very first sentence of the story is “Selena is a 13-year-old who was sold for sex,” which not only focuses the reader’s attention on an exceptional case but also makes it sound as though she was literally sold as a slave when in actuality the writer means she was pimped; it then attempts to justify the girl’s being treated as a criminal by everyone from the cops to her own mother under the excuse that “she might run away again”.  Let that sink in:  Both the courts and the CNN reporter want the reader to believe that the certainty of imprisonment in chains is preferable to the possibility of a return to prostitution.  It’s a new and disgusting twist on the old “rape is a fate worse than death”.

The article then goes on to quote the usual magic numbers which are spread about by trafficking fanatics without even the slightest proof; first we get the standard guess of “100,000 underage girls being sex trafficked in America today”, which if the US is anything like New Zealand is roughly double the number of underage prostitutes in all, of which it is likely that fewer than half are acting under coercion.  But the article then claims this wild exaggeration is a “conservative estimate” and proceeds to present an even wilder guess of 300,000…roughly two-thirds of all American prostitutes, a ludicrous figure by any stretch of the imagination.  Those with long memories may recognize these numbers as being very similar to those touted during the “Satanic Panic” as the number of teenage girls enslaved to produce babies for sacrifice; I guess the Satanists must’ve sold them all to the pimps when they packed up shop and went wherever it is pantomime villains go when the moral panics which employ them are over with.

But no moral panic is complete without tying it into some intimidating feature of the modern world, in this case the internet.  I expect CNN, despite the fact that its ratings (like those of all other mainstream news media) have taken a big hit from internet news sources, is motivated  purely by the highest altruism when it claims that the internet is “the new marketplace for underage sex trafficking” and is completely objective when it accuses Backpage (owned by Time-Warner’s competitor Village Voice Media) of complicity with traffickers.  And I’m equally sure that the reporter’s mention of huge profits from escort ads while failing to mention that the fees were federally mandated  was just an unfortunate oversight.

The next section of the story contains the usual cherry-picked examples and inflammatory language (i.e. “sold for sex” as though their custody actually changed hands), but that quickly degenerates into an astonishingly Hearstian tactic:

We posted our own ad, using a photo of CNN correspondent Amber Lyon when she was 14 years old. She told the men who called that she was underage; most didn’t care.  One man offered Lyon $30,000 to travel to another state and meet a wealthy friend of his to have sex in an expensive hotel. We went to the hotel, confirmed the offer was genuine, but stopped before accepting the money.

Of course, we only have Miss Lyon’s and her staff’s word for this, and it’s just too bad that the reputed “buyer” wasn’t an FBI plant or someone else who could’ve reported them for a flagrant breach of the law.  And far be it from me to suggest that Miss Lyon might get much more interesting results by joining an escort board and actually interacting with the girls and clients to see what internet escorting really looks like; after all, I wouldn’t want to get in the way of her irresponsible and unethical participation in the construction of the latest moral panic so her network can make money by selling advertising time to companies who use provocatively-presented women and girls, many of them underage, to sell everything from soap to erectile dysfunction drugs.  No, I’m not going to suggest that, but is it too much to ask that reporters go back to reporting the news instead of making it up?

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