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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Bindel is concerned with men treating women’s bodies like a workplace, when it is the state that treats us like property.  –  Ella Whelan

First They Came for the Hookers…

Stripping is no different from prostitution; say nothing when they attack the latter, expect them to come for the former:

…Tel Aviv…strippers…protest[ed] a new bill…that would put stripping on a legal par with prostitution…it would ban the possession of a location where prostitution or stripping occurs, as well as ban advertising and lobbying for stripping, which are not currently prohibited…

Watershed

Despite some dysphemisms, one of the best feminist arguments for decriminalization I’ve ever seen:

…Decriminalisation isn’t about what moral stance we take on prostitution itself.  It is about women being free to make choices about their own bodies.  It is the same as the argument for abortion rights…Some argue that it is a myth that women choose to go into prostitution, that women are unable to make an independent decision to become a prostitute because they are oppressed by men.  Sex workers are portrayed as victims of oppression, childlike in their need for protection…The criminalisation of sex work suggests women can’t be allowed to have control over their own bodies, that we can’t be trusted with that freedom – because all we’ll do is allow men to abuse us…Illiberal abortion laws prevent us from making our own choices about when to have children.  Consent classes and sex education seek to train us how and when to have sex.  Public-health policy demands that we live a certain way while pregnant. In every aspect of women’s lives, the state tries to act as our protector, withholding our freedom.  The decriminalisation of sex work is about insisting that a woman’s body should not be controlled by the state or the courts…

Torture Chamber

What our government calls a “correctional facility”:

In 2013, David O’Quin, a 39-year-old schizophrenic artist, was tied to a chair at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for the better part of two weeks.  His restraints contributed to the formation of blood clots in his legs, which dislodged and stuck in his lungs, killing him.  The O’Quin family has already settled with the Sheriff’s Office, which operates the lockup.  The city-parish owns the facility, and…agreed last week to settle with the O’Quins for another $50,000…Metro Council members say they’re aware of problems at the jail but made no commitment at the April 25 meeting to a path forward…”the biggest blight in Baton Rouge is the East Baton Rouge prison,” said Gary Meise of Together Baton Rouge…

Down Under (#421) 

This is the kind of outcome I’d expect in Australia or New Zealand, not prohibitionist New York:

A former stripper received…a six-figure inheritance from a former client and friend…Veronica Beckham…met the former HBO executive, Micky Liu, back in July 2014 at the Atlantic City Scores strip club…Beckham…described the relationship they had as an “everlasting friendship” in court documents…Liu, who suffered from diabetes and heart disease related to [obesity]…died less than a year later…Despite knowing each other for such a brief time, Liu obviously felt the same way about their relationship – as he named Beckham the beneficiary of his retirement accounts and a life-insurance policy worth a combined $223,000…Micky’s sister, May Liu, challenged the inheritance…suggesting that “Beckham, as a professional exotic dancer, was adept at applying and using coercion and manipulation upon men…[she] preyed upon Micky Liu’s vulnerability by exerting influence over him in the form of moral coercion”…the courts ruled that Beckham was entitled to the money – and only former girlfriends of Micky could sue for the funds…

Now now, Ms. Liu; don’t you now we’re all “victims” now, not seductresses?

Election Day (#689) 

Marijuana prohibition will soon be a thing of the past:

For the last year and a half, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, has been blocking implementation of a 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana for recreational use…[but] state legislators [finally] showed their patience with LaPage’s objections had been exhausted,  overriding his veto of a bill aimed at creating a system to license and regulate commercial production and distribution of cannabis.  The vote was 109 to 39 in the House and 28 to 6 in the Senate, well in excess of the two-thirds required…

Perquisites (#708) 

Attractive women have been used to market sports for generations, but before the currently-fashionable anti-whore crusade those women were compensated instead of being, well, “trafficked”:

When the Washington Redskins took their cheerleading squad to Costa Rica in 2013 for a calendar photo shoot, the first cause for concern among the cheerleaders came when Redskins officials collected their passports upon arrival at the resort, depriving them of their official identification…some of the cheerleaders said they were required to be topless, though the photographs used for the calendar would not show nudity.  Others wore nothing but body paint…A contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots.  One evening, at the end of a 14-hour day that included posing and dance practices, the squad’s director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders that their work was not done…Some of the male sponsors had picked them to be personal escorts at a nightclub…Their participation did not involve sex, the cheerleaders said, but they felt as if the arrangement amounted to “pimping us out”…

A Mound of Filth (#751)

MGM join other anti-human rights groups in supporting “Cuckoo Clock” McCain:

As part of its contribution to the campaign to fight [consensual adult sexuality]…MGM Resorts International…awarded $250,000 to the McCain Institute for International Leadership at [prohibitionist shithole] Arizona State University.  The [anti-sex] think tank [funds bogus “studies” to support censorship and pogroms]…MGM Resorts is also an active participant in the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force, a collaboration led by…Las Vegas [cops]…to coordinate anti-[sex worker] strategies…and [spread propaganda] about [sex work]…

Disaster

Capricious Lusts (#836)

Why do people have such trouble with this?  Sex workers can help a decent man cope with frustrations that can erode his judgment; we can’t defuse angry, violent men who believe they’re “owed” sex, because they think that they “shouldn’t have to” pay for it:

…sex worker Emma Evans…said, “[an incel] is not going to be helped by seeing a sex worker, because it’s not about lack of sex.  It’s about…entitlement…and…rage”…A recent post on an incel forum, for example, explains that the reason “incels aren’t getting laid is because women with a sexual market value equal to theirs” will artificially “inflate” their value by wearing makeup and revealing clothing in order to “fuck with men above their league”…The…post…[fantasizes] women [should] be [forced by a totalitarian government]…to have sex with men of “equal” market value…[and] single mothers and those with more than nine sexual partners, “should be forced by the state to date and have sex with these incels”…they generally have a negative view of sex workers, according to Evans.  “They hate sex workers because we charge for sex, and of course that’s anathema to them”…Before going on a shooting spree in Isla Vista in 2014, Elliot Rodger touched on this idea in his 141-page-long manifesto titled “My Twisted Mind”.  Hiring a sex worker, Rodger posited, would “temporarily [feel] good for the moment, but afterward it makes one feel like a pathetic loser for having to hire a girl when other men get the experience for free”…

The saddest part about this, of course, is the delusion that some men get sex for “free”; wise men know that “free” sex is the most expensive kind.

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It’s a privilege that [clients] choose us to share their hopes, fears and dreams with.  –  Rachel Wotton

Lack of Evidence

Discrimination against sex workers invariably affects other women as well:

Landlords in Nairobi…are threatening to smoke out single women from their apartments, claiming that their houses have been turned into sex dens.  The[y]…have now resorted to vetting potential tenants and turning away single women…“We have instructed our agents and caretakers to ensure that female tenants provide proof of marriage or that they have serious boyfriends before they are allowed to live in our apartments,” said one of the landlords…most of have been outwitted by shrewd women who [circumvent] the…[discrimination] process by bringing male companions to pose as husbands during their house-hunting missions…

Long-time readers may remember that similar practices in 19th-century Europe led to the appearance of pimps.  I also find it fascinating that so many ignoramuses seem to think marriage is a magical ward against harlotry.

The Public Eye 

The more out sex workers there are, the harder it will be to ignore us:

In 1995 New South Wales  became…the first place…in the world to decriminalise sex work.  Against a backdrop of the AIDS epidemic and a recommendation to fight police corruption from a royal commission into the state’s police service, sex workers succeeded in lobbying the government for change.  The NSW model is often cited as an example of best-practice, evidence-based regulation.  The state has an estimated 10,000 sex workers and many of them are active globally in law reform, human rights and HIV prevention campaigns.  But 23 years since decriminalisation, how much has changed for sex workers and what does the future hold?  The Guardian spoke to six sex workers about their personal experiences and the diverse nature of the work they do…

Most of y’all will probably recognize at least one or two of these names, especially that of Rachel Wotton, whom I deeply admire and got to meet last month.

Catastrophic Consequences

After harassing sex workers for the past five years, Scottish police now pretend they want to be “fair”:

Police Scotland is to review thousands of warnings handed out to sex workers in a bid to ensure prostitutes are not being unfairly criminalised.  Warnings…will also be removed from the internal police system after two years as part of a new policy designed to reduce the risk of discrimination…Under the existing system…A range of warnings are “weeded”…after two years, but there is a higher hurdle for sex workers to overcome.  A single warning for a prostitute will be erased from the system after 24 months, but two or more sanctions for the same individual triggers the so-called “40-20” rule.  This means that a person has to be 40 years old or over, and the information would have had to be on record for at least 20 years, before a weed is carried out…The move comes nearly five years after Police Scotland raids on saunas in Edinburgh effectively ended the regulated brothel system in the city…The action is believed to have damaged police relations with sex workers…

“Is believed to have damaged relations”.  Really?  I can’t imagine why hounding people out of safe working conditions, destroying their livelihoods and saddling them with 20-year criminal records would make them unhappy.

Nice While It Lasted

Remember when a person had to actually be found guilty to get a life sentence?

In New York a defendant can be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life based on accusations a jury rejected.  So the state’s highest court ruled last week in a case that illustrates how fear and loathing of sex offenders  lead to results that would be recognized as unjust and illogical in any other context.  Quinn Britton’s 13-year-old niece, identified in court documents as A.B., accused him of raping her during a Thanksgiving Day visit to her grandmother’s home in Brooklyn…when she was 11.  Britton denied any inappropriate behavior, and his mother said A.B. had spent the whole evening watching TV in the living room with her.  The girl’s older brother said she had described a sexual assault to him, but…A.B. told her brother Britton had tried to engage in vaginal intercourse with her but couldn’t because his penis “wouldn’t fit”.  By contrast, she told police Britton had penetrative sex with her for about 10 minutes.  A detective testi[l]ied that Britton had admitted touching, kissing, and performing oral sex on A.B., but he had no recording or written statement to corroborate the confession, which Britton denied making.  The jurors…found Britton guilty of second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, based on the allegation that he kissed A.B.’s breasts, but not guilty of three felonies…the judge nevertheless assumed that Britton had committed the felonies and therefore assigned him to risk level two…which triggers lifetime registration…

The reason the judge can get away with this abomination is the loathsome pretense that “sex offender” registration is merely a administrative requirement rather than a penalty.

The Missing Word (#735)

Note that state-sanctioned near-slavery isn’t called “trafficking” herein:

Two Bangladeshi men…have been charged at a Dubai court with human trafficking after they allegedly tried to sell an Indonesian absconding maid…via WhatsApp…They are also facing charges…of running a…prostitution den, facilitating prostitution…and sexual exploitation…the victim…[was] subject to a deportation order…[she] said…”I got in contact with a countrywoman and told her I was not happy at work because the sponsor’s wife was very demanding.  That woman introduced me to another compatriot (a wanted runaway) who promised me a part-time job…The runaway woman told me I would work as a prostitute and that I had to accept as I had no other choice”…

The “sponsors” of such migrant workers hold officially-granted power over them, and often abuse and exploit them because they can have them deported at a whim.  Women who flee the exploitation are treated as criminals (note the terms “absconding” and “runaways”); is it any wonder other nasty characters can take advantage of them?  But only the people they flee to are called “traffickers”, never the well-connected abusers they flee from.

The Punitive Mindset (#804) 

If there’s anything narrower and meaner than the mind of a prison official, I’m not sure what it might be:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is quietly rolling out a pair of new policies that could restrict access to books and communications for the system’s nearly 200,000 prisoners.  The first of the new policies bans all books from being sent into federal facilities from outside sources including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  These retailers are usually the only means by which prisoners can receive books because most facilities reject reading material sent from individuals or small bookstores due to [arbitrary bullshit]…Now, prisoners instead will have to submit a request to purchase books — a limit of five per order — through an ordering system in which they must pay exorbitant prices and don’t have the option to buy cheaper used paperbacks.  In addition, prisoners must pay a 30 percent tax plus shipping cost…Under the new protocol, a book purchased from Amazon for as little as $11.76, with shipping included, could cost more than $26.  The new books policy…has been in effect in [two facilities for months]…and…has resulted in a massive price increase for books as well as months of wait time between orders…

Unchristian Nation 

Government thugs continue their crusade against Christian charity:

Scott Warren was arrested by Border Patrol agents…just north of the Mexican border, in January…he was indicted by a grand jury in February, on two counts of harboring illegal aliens and one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens…Warren is also one of nine volunteers with No More Deaths, an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, to be hit with federal charges in recent months for leaving water in a remote federal wilderness preserve where migrants routinely disappear and die.  His arrest came just hours after No More Deaths published a report that documents evidence of Border Patrol agents destroying jugs of water that the group leaves for migrants in the desert…

This Means War (#831)

It’s good to see they’re going to fight this:

Backpage.com co-founder Michael Lacey offered his first public comments about allegations of running prostitution ads and money laundering.  “Nonsense!” Lacey said before his attorney added that his client had no further comment.  Lacey, and co-founder James Larkin are scheduled to stand trial Jan. 15, 2020…Five site employees will also stand trial.  Attorneys were given enough time to review an estimated 7 million to 9 million pages of documents about the case…CEO Carl Ferrer, has pleaded guilty to a separate federal conspiracy case in Arizona and state money laundering charges in California.  In addition, [Ferrer] pleaded guilty [in the company’s name] to human trafficking in Texas and in a federal money laundering conspiracy case in Arizona.  Ferrer has agreed to testify against others…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#837) 

I should’ve realized a change like that wouldn’t be a merely administrative one:

Experience in the sex…industry will no longer help would-be immigrants move to New Zealand, it seems.  The recently-hyped addition to the employment list, for visa hopefuls, has vanished from the immigration website…While the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website did not issue any official statement on the development, the agency’s area manager Stephanie Greathead told local media that the removal was done to avoid “further confusion”

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This month I’ve had an unusual number of guest columns, but then this has been a most unusual month.  Just Saturday I received an email from one of my contacts, containing a description of Michael Lacey’s arrest; since it says everything that I think needs to be said, I’ve only edited it slightly to redact information that could identify my contact’s source.

I got some of the backstory of Lacey’s arrest from a former editor at one of his papers, who was getting ready to travel to Phoenix for a wedding reception for Lacey (apparently he had just gotten married) when the news broke that he’d been arrested.  The Feds did a full on tactical arrest:  kicked in his door,  came in guns out,  and even forced his elderly mother-in-law who was there at the time to get down on the floor.  Given that Lacey has no criminal background of any kind (let alone a violent one), it is very questionable why they didn’t use the common sense approach used with white collar suspects and just call his lawyer and direct him to surrender at the Federal courthouse.  Unless of course you are striving for maximum political theater.  My contact says after the reception Lacey and wife were going to leave for Spain on their honeymoon, and suspects his imminent trip abroad may have been their excuse for overkill on the arrest, though Larkin had also flown abroad at the time the indictment was handed down and was turned around by police in Scotland.  The crux of the new case against Lacey and Larkin seems to be that the Feds succeeding in intimidating Carl Ferrer, the former CEO of Backpage, and they got him to flip on them.  Given this, Lacey’s only hope would seem to be mounting a major first amendment constitutional challenge the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Larry Flynt case.

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A federal war on porn would be just as winnable as the federal wars on drugs and alcohol—in other words, not winnable at all.  –  Peter Suderman

The Punitive Mindset 

Only in the US could a fucking screw expect sympathy for having to endure the aberrant behavior of human beings she helped keep locked up in cages:

I…don’t watch porn because I’ve seen more men masturbate than I can count.  One of my first jobs out of college was working as a [fucking screw] at a county jail in the South.  Even after getting an Ivy League degree at the University of Pennsylvania, I had to take the work I could find that was related to my field: criminology.  And only one facility called me back…it got so bad that I whenever I saw an inmate masturbating, I would look away or pretend not to see it so I didn’t have to do all the paperwork.  Besides, I soon realized that for…men [locked up in cages and deprived of all normal human contact]…the punishment they would get…was no deterrent…Four years ago, I left the jail to go to grad school.  But this stays with me: I was a female [screw]…who had to figure out how to do my job while inmates masturbated to my presence, my voice, even my scent…And there is nothing at all that will help me forget it…

Waah, waah, waah.  People who make their living off of human misery deserve everything they get.  I’m glad she’ll never forget it; maybe she’ll think twice before taking another job keeping human beings in conditions that wouldn’t even be humane for chickens.

Elephant in the Parlor 

I can’t even begin to guess how much taxpayer money ended up in my bank account:

A Utah lawmaker who voted for tougher penalties for prostitution has resigned amid allegations that he used taxpayer dough to pay for hotel rooms to hook up with an online escort…Brie Taylor [said]…Jon Stanard paid her $250 for sex twice at the Fairfield Inn in Salt Lake City…Stanard…was reimbursed for two hotel stays while he was attending legislative meetings at the state capital…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

“Sex addiction” is still being used to excuse bad behavior:

Mesa police have arrested a 50-year-old man accused of exposing himself on at least three occasions, dating back to February of 2017.  Erik Gerard Becker…allegedly exposed himself and [masturbated]…at least three times…to a 12-year-old girl in one of the instances…Becker is the Chief Financial Officer for Catholic Charities in Arizona…[and] has a history of public sexual indecency and indecent exposure charges…all the way back to 2012…Becker told police he had a lifetime problem with sex addiction and advised he was still in therapy…

Standard Operating Procedure

One day, amateurs will realize that “visitors to a country do business with locals” is neither “misconduct” nor even news:

Oxfam, one of Britain’s largest charities, acknowledged…that staff members committed “sexual misconduct” in Haiti in 2011, after a news report revealed that senior officials there had hired prostitutes, including for sex parties.  Oxfam fired four people and allowed three others to resign after an investigation, which also found that drivers were sometimes ordered to pick up prostitutes and that orgies were held at houses near Port-au-Prince that were used by the organization’s staff…

The Notorious Badge (#513) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

Fifty Shades Freed is about as arousing as staring at a mildewed patch of wallpaper.  This is the third film to be adapted from EL James’ trilogy of zillion-selling “mommy porn” S&M bonkbusters, and its protagonists are two attractive young lovers who can’t keep their hands off each other, so it should be a turn-on, if nothing else.  And yet Fifty Shades Freed is so unarousing that it could be used as therapy in a sex addiction clinic…

The Puritan Recrudescence

On the absurdity of currently-fashionable calls to ban porn:

Imagine…what it would take to successfully ban pornography in the United States…you would need to stop the production of porn by business enterprises…Next, you would need to find a way to stop a slew of high profile, incredibly lucrative websites from posting, hosting, or otherwise distributing explicit material.  After you cracked down on the pros, you would need to go after amateurs by finding some way to stop tens of millions of iPhone-wielding Americans from making home movies…and distributing them anonymously online…you would also need to enforce criminal penalties against former professionals who continued to produce porn for the black market.  And you’d need to penalize thrill-seeking amateurs as well, which would mean going after, and perhaps locking up, a wide array of sympathetic and otherwise law-abiding individuals from all walks of life whose only crime was to record and distribute consensual sexual activity.  You’d also need to punish illicit viewers, whose numbers could easily reach into the tens of millions…Many of the most popular domestic hubs for porn would probably move to protected locations overseas…

The End of the Beginning (#703)

Another step toward eliminating arbitrary state oppression of “sex offenders”:

California must consider earlier parole for potentially thousands of sex offenders, maybe even those convicted of pimping children…Judge Allen Sumner…ordered prison officials to rewrite part of the regulations for Proposition 57.  The 2016 ballot measure allows consideration of earlier parole for most state prison inmates, but Gov. Jerry Brown promised voters all sex offenders would be excluded.  That goes too far, Sumner said…”If the voters had intended to exclude all registered sex offenders from early parole consideration…they presumably would have said so”…He said the scope of exclusions should be narrowed to only those now serving time for a violent sex offense…those who already served their time for a sex crime…and now are imprisoned for a different crime should be eligible for early release…Janice Bellucci…argued the measure requires earlier parole consideration for any sex crime not on the state’s narrow list of 23 violent felonies, which includes murder, kidnapping and forcible rape…

Reminder: “pimping children” usually means something like “a teen sex worker talking to her slightly younger friend.”

Stalkers in Blue 

When cops want to make life miserable for someone, it’s easy to do so without even assaulting them:

Ashley Diamond…sued the Georgia Department of Corrections in 2015 after suffering repeated sexual assaults in prison…After [filing the suit, she]…was routinely targeted by police officers in Rome, the Georgia town to which she would be confined as a condition of her parole…[she was] subject[ed]…to frequent random stops—as many as four times in a single day…Rhys Harper…an activist and filmmaker…[was] interviewing Diamond during the time of the…harassment…Nearly every time the two met to record a segment for his documentary, Diamond would get pulled over.  He says he “lost count” of how many times it happened….she was stopped 19 times in a single year…At the same time…a local Ku Klux Klan chapter…launched a full-fledged campaign targeting Diamond…When [she] didn’t come home to a torrent of white one-sheets in her yard, she would find feces smeared on her door or a noose hung in the entryway…Diamond requested her parole be moved to Atlanta…But her parole officer…wouldn’t allow the transfer…[even though its a common practice]…

Lest you think of this as two separate things, remember that in some rural areas the membership rolls of the police department and KKK are virtually identical.

Pyrrhic Victory (#805)

Expect this to spread to the US within just a few years:

Police in China have started wearing sunglasses outfitted with facial recognition technology to spot suspected criminals.  The sunglasses, which were designed to spot people in large crowds, are connected to a handheld device that scans an internal database…seven suspects — wanted for crimes ranging from hit-and-runs to sex trafficking — have already been arrested using the new technology.  Police have also caught 26 people with fake IDs…all…at the train stain in Zhengzhou…

To Molest and Rape (#806) 

It’s good to see this not only getting attention, but being called what is is:

Vaguely written statutes in many states…permit [cops] to escape sexual assault charges by claiming that the victims consented…The New York State Assembly last week passed legislation to close that odious loophole — and the State Senate, which is considering the same bill, needs to swiftly follow suit.  States across the country that [are] letting [cops] get away with rape need to revisit their statutes as well…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

It’s good to see that somebody gets it:

While prostitution is a legal grey area in Hong Kong and has long been a distinctive part of the city’s nightlife, the laws…[make] them more vulnerable to abuse, sexual violence and robbery…“Since the current law prohibits them from hiring a bodyguard or someone like a helper or cleaner, they must face any dangerous situations alone,” said Cherry Chui of Action for Reach Out (AFRO), the first non-profit organisation established locally in support of sex workers’ rights…The restrictions effectively leave sex workers forced to work alone in one-woman brothels more powerless and vulnerable, especially those who are migrants and do not possess a Hong Kong identity card…

Checklist (#812) 

I’m not sure what, if anything, to make of this:

…the Junior League of Salt Lake City…is working hard to [harass sex workers and migrants using the excuse of]…human trafficking…They approached the airport about buying ad space to show travelers how to [spy on others looking for bogus] signs that someone may be being trafficked like refusing to make eye contact [or] looking disheveled…the airport told them…advertising space is reserved exclusively for people looking to sell a product.  They don’t allow [propaganda] campaigns…[because] airport…policy is to avoid controversy and err on the side of not offending anybody…the airport has decided it will run its own [propaganda] campaign…

Whither Canada? (#813)

Good news for the defendants, but the actual challenge to the law is just starting:

Human trafficking charges were dropped [last] Wednesday against the owners of a London [Ontario] escort agency whose case is testing the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.  Hamad Anwar and Tiffany Harvey were charged in November 2015 with more than two dozen charges each after their business, Fantasy World Escorts, was shut down by…police…[state] lawyers agreed to withdraw most of those charges, leaving only the ones that deal with procuring, advertising and materially benefiting from someone else’s sexual services…Those three offences are relatively new, brought in under Canada’s 2014 prostitution law, Bill C-36, which criminalize the buying of sex…Led by Toronto lawyer James Lockyer, the defence has put forward a motion to argue the constitutionality of those charges, saying it violates sex workers’ right to the security of person…

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Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  –  Matthew 23:27-28

The United States is not, and never has been, a “Christian nation”, despite the claims of many modern evangelical Christians who are apparently unable to read anything other than the Bible and religious tracts.  Most of the founders were Deists, and the Constitution clearly delineated that the new country was to have no state religion, that everyone has the right to worship (or not) as they please, and that church and state were to be entirely separate from one another.  Unfortunately, the majority of the population were both Christian and far too stupid and selfish to understand why a state religion is an astonishingly bad idea, even for those who embrace the favored creed.  As a result, legislators slowly introduced Christian notions of morality into the laws, and by the late 19th century both federal and state legal codes were thoroughly infested with odious statutes drawn from whichever Old Testament precepts Protestant Christians had decided to keep (while ignoring, for example, bans on eating shellfish or menstruating women attending religious services).  But while these dour authoritarians were only too happy to adopt whatever prohibitions on pleasure they could get past the courts, they showed little interest in the pronouncements of the guy for whom their religion was named, such as all that stuff about charity, mercy and forgiveness (and separation of church and state).  Still, up until recently, most Christians at least paid lip service to Jesus’ teachings, even if they weren’t too interested in enshrining them in the law.  But as US “authorities” have increased their outward shows and proclamations of Christianity, their actual actions have become increasingly un-Christian.  A quick Google search will reveal plenty of incidents of people being fined or even arrested for feeding the hungry, and earlier this week there was this item:

Hours after a humanitarian group released videos showing border patrol agents kicking over water bottles left for migrants in the Arizona desert, a volunteer for the organization was arrested and charged with harboring undocumented immigrants.  Scott Daniel Warren…faces a federal charge of harboring two people in the country illegally…William Walker, an attorney for Warren, said his client’s actions were not criminal.  “This is a humanitarian aid worker trying to save lives,” Walker said.  His arrest last week came after border patrol agents conducted surveillance on a building where two immigrants were given food, water, beds and clean clothes…No More Deaths last week gave news organizations videos taken between 2010 and 2017, mostly by cameras at its desert camp.  In one clip, a border patrol agent kicked over five water jugs meant to supply immigrants.  In another, an agent pours gallons of water on the ground…

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

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I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright.  –  H.P. Lovecraft

I’m not as much of a music nerd as Lorelei Rivers is, but I’m enough of one to be tickled when I discover that poems can be sung to the tune of well-known songs, such as the fact that “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” can be sung to the tune of either “Jerusalem” or “Hernando’s Hideaway”, and any Emily Dickinson poem can be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.  And since I’m also a big old HP Lovecraft nerd, I was rather amused to discover the video below (though I honestly think this version is much better).  I got those from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, and the links above the video from Furry Girl  (“karma”), Franklin Harris (“speech” and “three”), Carol Fenton (“violence”), and Radley Balko (“together”).

From the Archives

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Sexual predation by police officers happens far more often than people in the business are willing to admit.  –  Norm Stamper

Above the Law  

Note what this “official’s” last job was:

Khristen Sellers needed a home…So when Four-County Community Services – a local housing agency – offered her an opportunity to move into a white panelled, three-bedroom trailer home on the outskirts of town, she readily accepted.  That’s when the trouble started…She had applied for the federally subsidised Housing Choice Voucher Program…Section 8…the agency’s inspector, a former North Carolina state [cop] named Eric Pender, came to the property with a clipboard in hand…Pender asked her if she “gives head” or if she’d ever been paid for sex, implying that his signature on the inspection was the only thing standing between her and a place to live…it was the first in a string of incidents…”He would never sign.  Each time he came, it was like, ‘You owe me before I sign this paper.  And you gotta make a decision’…”

R.I.P. Petite Jasmine 

A documentary on the Swedish state’s complicity in the murder of Petite Jasmine:

On July 11, 2013, Eva-Marree, aka 27-year-old Jasmine Petite, was killed by the father of her two…children in the Swedish social services offices.  This…was the culmination of a nightmare that began three years earlier, after the young woman, having left her partner for repeated domestic violence…Eva-Marree was deprived of her daughter and her son, then 1 and 2 years old, without discussion or preliminary investigation, the social services in attributing sole custody to their father, a man they had themselves recognized as violent.  After…finally [obtaining] a right of visit with her children…she was murdered during the first appointment fixed with the [father] and their son…this is the story of a woman…deprived of her children [and ultimately her life]…so that a puritanical and repressive society could sleep soundly…

With Folded Hands (#584)

Margaret Atwood on the asininity of women giving away autonomy for “safety”:

…women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones.  They’re not angels, incapable of wrongdoing.  If they were, we wouldn’t need a legal system.  Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions.  If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote.  There are powerful groups in North America pushing this agenda, but they are not usually considered feminists…in order to have civil and human rights for women there have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice, just as for women to have the vote, there has to be a vote.  Do Good Feminists believe that only women should have such rights?  Surely not.  That would be to flip the coin on the old state of affairs in which only men had such rights…

The Rape Question (#630) 

Why do people not get that an informal contract without a lawyer witness would offer no protection?

…a Dutch tech company…called LegalThings is developing an app called LegalFlings that allows potential partners to essentially sign a legally binding document that enumerates which sexual acts they consent to…there are obviously NUMEROUS flaws with the practicality of this app.  At any point during sex, someone can change their mind.  You can’t just anally penetrate someone who is scared or screaming in pain just because they said “yeah we can try that” prior to sex.  Consent doesn’t work that way…

Scrupleless in Seattle

Cops are on the same intellectual level as monkeys; that’s why they ape each other’s “sting” tactics:

The Phoenix Police Department…announced…their completion of a recent vice operation [which they pretended was aimed at]…human trafficking…86 [people’s lives were damaged by pervert cops who]…opened a [fake] massage parlor and arrested patrons…

Elephant in the Parlor (#705)  

Politician pays whore for discretion.  Yawn.

A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to…former adult-film star [Stephanie Clifford] a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter…

License to Rape (#706)

US prisons are hotbeds of rape in every form:

In an effort to avoid newly-installed surveillance cameras in search areas, Rikers Island [screws] take female visitors to nearby bathrooms to strip-search them, according to several women and a new report by the Jails Action Coalition.  Five women have now filed notices of claim (which signal an intention to sue the city) with the city’s comptroller…[after screws] sexually abused them…[under the excuse of] body cavity and strip searches.  In the wake of the allegations, the city placed surveillance cameras in the Rikers Island search area in late 2016.  But the cameras didn’t stop the abuse…[even though] Department of Correction policy expressly prohibits strip searches or body cavity searches of visitors to city jails…

A Woman’s Point of View (#791) 

At least they’re talking about it:

State Rep. Elizabeth Edwards…co-sponsored…a bill to establish a committee to study decriminalizing sex work, something adamantly opposed by Gov. Chris Sununu, Republican leadership in the Legislature and [cops]…”There are those in the Legislature who want to explore legalizing prostitution.  I am 100 percent against it, and would veto the bill if it reaches my desk,” he said.  On Jan. 9, the House snubbed that warning and with little debate passed the bill in a bipartisan 177-134 vote…

To Molest and Rape (#797) 

It’s good to see this problem finally getting attention outside of libertarian and sex worker circles:

…as someone who has studied police sexual violence for more than a decade…[the recent rape of a teenager by NYPD cops] didn’t surprise me.  In fact, it is representative of national patterns of sexual violence by officers during traffic stops and handling of minor offenses, drug arrests and police interactions with teenagers.  Research on “police sexual misconduct” — a term used to describe actions from sexual harassment and extortion to forcible rape by officers — overwhelmingly concludes that it is a systemic problem…The vast majority of incidents…involve motorists, young people in job-shadowing programs, students, victims of violence and informants…half of arrests for sexual misconduct were for incidents involving minors….sexual misconduct is the second-most-frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force…

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