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Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

Anybody with an internet connection and a reasonable approximation of human intelligence has probably noticed the close resemblance of the current crusade against Pornhub to the previous one against Backpage.  Both presented grotesque masturbatory fantasies of “child sex slaves” as fact; both made grandiose and mathematically-illiterate statistical claims unfounded in anything remotely resembling evidence; both were championed by religious fanatics whose propaganda was amplified by white savior poster child Nicholas Kristof, backed by the undeserved credibility of the staunchly prohibitionist New York Times; both targeted sex workers’ livelihoods by demonizing extremely popular websites used by independent workers to reach potential clients; both used “choke point” tactics to embarass credit card companies into discriminating against the targeted websites, turning them into censorship mechanisms; and both followed those back-door tactics with legislative attacks from sociopaths who saw a way to win more votes from the dangerously-ignorant, grossly-stupid busybodies who infest every city, region, and social group in the US.  But while FOSTA only weakened Section 230 and frightened many US websites into self-censorship, the proposed SISEA is far more ambitious:

SISEA was introduced…by Senators Ben Sasse…and Jeff Merkley…[fellow politician Lindsey] Graham wrote [in support]…”I have concerns about our children’s ability to access pornographic material through the internet and…I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to limit society’s exposure to inappropriate material”…This rhetorical slippage — going from something few people disagree with (limiting children’s access to adult content) to something most people condemn (establishing state censorship of free sexual expression) in the span of only a few words— is consistent with the demands of religiously motivated War On Porn groups, such as…Morality in Media…Exodus Cry (an offshoot of Missouri’s International House of Prayer) and Fight the New Drug (whose connections to the Mormon Church, despite of their loud protestations, are too numerous to mention)…

But despite the dramatic similarities, there are also subtle (yet important) differences between this campaign and the last.  As I’ve pointed out frequently over the past three years, FOSTA was a huge overreach on the government’s part; it was the impetus for a dramatic increase in sex worker rights activism and galvanized maintream support for decriminalization, even among politicians.  While the owners and managers of Backpage were targeted by a witch hunt that continues to this day, Visa has already signaled some unwillingness to blindly follow the anti-sex bandwagon wherever it goes:

…Visa announced that [while] it…continues the suspension of card use on the company’s tube site Pornhub “until pending investigations are complete…Visa will reinstate acceptance privileges for MindGeek sites that offer professionally produced adult studio content”…

In other words, while Visa is perfectly happy to steal food out of the mouths of individual sex workers’ children, it is unwilling to completely forsake the adult content gravy train on rails owned and operated by fellow big corporations in order to support the evil fantasies of control freaks.  And while major media organizations obediently parroted prohibitionist propaganda about Backpage and ignored FOSTA’s devastating effects on human lives until it was an accomplished fact, that isn’t the case this time:

After recent moves by payment platforms…to cut off access to Pornhub…sex workers…fear an oncoming “war on porn” that prevents them from making money for their work…adult performers…told NBC News that the payment companies’ latest actions hurt them financially far more than they hurt Pornhub.  It’s especially destructive, they said, at a time when they have few other financial options…in the middle of a pandemic…Pornhub…ma[kes] money [like traditional broadcast TV stations,] by offering a vast free-to-access collection of videos uploaded by professional and amateur creators…[and] sell[ing] advertising…But since customers are currently not able to make any purchases on the site, adult performers say the companies’ moves have cut off a legal source of income…
For a major legacy news company to publish an article sympathetic to sex workers and critical of attacks upon us, would have been unheard-of only three years ago.  We’re still suffering from monstrous attacks on our lives and livelihoods, but at last the world is starting to pay attention.  And that subtle difference may prove to change everthing.

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I think the ideal philosophy is to only care about the fact that you do your job with integrity.  –  Kiran Deshmukh

Social Autoimmune Disorder

Cops think they can never have enough pretexts to harass people:

Dallas [cops]…arrested 88 people in [just the first half of this year for]…driv[ing through a particular neighborhood, claiming they committed the thoughtcrime of]…looking for sex…All but one of those arrested were people of color.  [And now] Dallas [politicians want to make it easier for them to dramatically increase the score by]…allow[ing them] to [arrest people for the “crime” of] passing through [that neighborhood three times]…in…two hours…[using the all-purpose excuse of] trafficking women for sex.  The penalty is a fine of up to $500…[if pigs claim they] suspect[ed their victims]…of being pimps…

An Example to the West (#329)

An interview with Kiran Deshmukh, president of the National Network of Sex Workers in India:

I still remember Meena Seshu…telling us that we had to band together…to fight back.  I still remember that exact day this realization sunk in:  A gangster was on the streets making a scene and threatening us with knives.  All the women who’d usually shut their doors and sit tight poured out into the streets.  One woman undid her saree on the road, and the others used it to tie the gangster to a nearby pole.  The women beat him up so much and so badly that not a single gangster has created a scene in our area since then.  Once women band together, they become formidable opponents…Sex workers…work put food on the table and feed their children.  Society, on the other hand, views the world in a moral–immoral binary…Society will point out how our work is related to our bodies and how many men we “sleep” with…two people having consensual sex is justified but if you attach sex to money, it’s completely immoral.  Why?  You’re all saying it’s totally fine to have sex for free?…As for tragedy, if a woman enters sex work due to a tragic situation, but eventually decides to continue in the same profession, why would you bother her with the circumstances that influenced her choice 30-40 years ago?…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#934) 

Remember, this is not slavery, but lucrative, flexible, voluntary work is:

Most [drug] rehab programs that require work act essentially as temp agencies, farming the [pati]ents out to…third parties, such as tree trimming services, dairies, poultry processing plants or oil refineries.  The wages are remitted not to the workers but to the rehab centers…the…workers…receiv[e]…no pay, no Social Security credits, [and] no unemployment insurance payment…Other rehab-affiliated programs, notably the Salvation Army, have their patients perform grossly underpaid work for their commercial enterprises — if they did not have this captive workforce, they would have to seek [fairly-paid] labor from the open market…

You Were Warned (#1007)

But please, tell me more about the “wings”:

It is now broadly recognized that Joe Biden doesn’t like Section 230 and has repeatedly shown he doesn’t understand what it does…[now] his…top tech policy advisor, Bruce Reed, along with Common Sense Media’s Jim Steyer, have published a bizarre and misleading “but think of the children!” attack on Section 230 that misunderstands the law, misunderstands how it impacts kids, and…suggests incredibly dangerous changes to Section 230..[among] its myriad problems…is…citing FOSTA as a “good example” of how to amend Section 230…

Rotting Fruit (#1015)

Why are men with so much to lose so goddamned stupid about sex?

[Paul Alexander,] the owner of a charter-jet company…has been charged with sex trafficking after [NYPD cops claim he]…offer[ed them] sex with a 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old girl for $300…In March, an underage girl went to the police and told them Alexander…had been…pimping her out…An undercover cop posing as a customer met with Alexander—who showed him nude photos of the girls, charged him $300 for sex with them, and suggested he ply them with drugs and pot so they would be more cooperative…Alexander…has…a 1996 sexual assault conviction…and in 2003 he was convicted of possession of…child [porn]…

Dangerous Speech (#1092)

Backpage case judge claims it’s OK her husband has publicly attacked Backpage because the Backpage case “isn’t about Backpage”.  Seriously.

…the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals…[has] ordered federal prosecutors to respond to the defense’s request for a “writ of mandamus,” which would order U.S. District Court Judge Susan Brnovich to remove herself from the case.  The order…[comes only days after] a hearing in…[which] Judge Susan Brnovich claimed that inflammatory comments made by her husband, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, about Backpage.com’s alleged guilt in facilitating illegal sex work, were unimportant and did not warrant her recusal.  “This case is not about Backpage,” she contended at one point…an assertion that might come as a surprise for anyone familiar with the federal government’s superseding indictment in the case, which mentions Backpage more than 600 times[it also] seem[s] a startling statement given that the prosecution’s theory of the case from jump has been one of vicarious liability, in which the government seeks to hold Lacey and Larkin responsible for alleged illicit acts supposedly connected to 50 ads cited in the indictment — ads never seen by Lacey and Larkin and posted by persons unknown to them, among the millions that once existed on the site…

The Next Target

Prohibitionists care only about “messages”, not facts:

Pornhub has released…statements about…Visa and Mastercard [announcing] their cards would no longer be accepted on the platform, following…Nicholas Kristof[‘s spurious]…allegations against the company…”These actions…come just two days after Pornhub…[banned] unverified users…from uploading content — a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook…Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue…Pornhub’s safeguards and technologies have proven effective:  while…Facebook reported that it removed 84,100,000 incidents of CSAM over two and a half years, Instagram reported that it removed 4,452,000 incidents…over one and a half years, and Twitter reported that it suspended 1,466,398 unique accounts for CSAM over two years, the Internet Watch Foundation…reported [only] 118 incidents of CSAM on Pornhub in a three year period”…

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I’ve got a new article out in Reason; you can read it on their website, but here’s a taste to get you started:

Mastercard and Visa…announced that they will no longer let customers use their cards on the adult video site Pornhub.  This new policy was prompted by political pressure, making it the latest government victory in a long, censorious quest.

Governments can define actual actions as “crimes” and threaten dire consequences for those actions, but the intangible contents of the human mind are forever out of their reach.  So officials covet the next best thing:  the power to stop individuals from sharing the products of those minds—ideas, fantasies, art—with others.  In America they are constrained by the First Amendment, and so for centuries they’ve dreamed up ways to circumvent that restriction.  The courts have rejected most of these attempts, but one has had remarkable staying power:  an exception for the nebulosity called “obscenity.”  This used to be a fairly hefty cudgel; most big publishers, movie producers, and so on were unwilling to be dragged into court for a principle, and most of those who were willing were too puny to put up much of a defense.  That started to change in the 1980s, when cheap video equipment made it possible to churn out shoestring productions for the new and rapidly-growing home video market…

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Smart people…[a]re better than dumber people at coming up with reasons to justify their false beliefs.  –  Cathy Reisenwitz

See No Evil (#424)

Censors have learned to use “progressive” rhetoric to cloak prudery:

A 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe playfully patting down her upblown skirt is the source of a [moronic] debate in Palm Springs, California.  The town’s city council has approved the…recreation of the act[ress]’s iconic scene atop a blustery subway grate from…The Seven Year Itch—to be installed near the Palm Springs Art Museum for a three-year period.  But…[prudes, busybodies and censors are dis]pleased with the decision…the museum’s executive director…Louis Grachos [made furtive movements in his pants while bloviating weird fantasies about underwear]…“school-age children”…and [how the]…statue [magically] objectifies women…[thereby] “hurt[ing] our whole community”…Steven H. Maloney, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, [opined that women are so stupid that a painted hunk of metal constitutes]…“an unhealthy encouragement of risqué behavior of women”…

I have a hard time imagining what a lower opinion of women than that displayed by these pompous weeds would look like.

Policing Womanhood

Cathy Reisenwitz has further thoughts on the origin of whore-hatred in women:

As my friend and fellow sex worker Maggie McNeill points out, public polling suggests men are more likely to support sex work decrim than women…Maggie thinks that the main reason women oppose sex work decrim is that women tend to think of women’s individual behavior as reflecting on women as a whole and think sex work is a bad look…I think there’s truth to that, but it lacks an important class angle…middle-class white women began campaigning for laws against prostitution and defining any type of promiscuity as prostitution in the Progressive Era at the turn of the 20th century…Middle-class white women feared female economic independence threatened dominant middle-class values.  By making prostitution dangerous and illegal, middle-class white women sought to force working-class women, women of color, and immigrant women into marriage, chastity, monogamy, hard work, and propriety lest they live independently of men and destroy the social order…

To Molest and Rape (#825)

Rapist cops don’t only target women:

A man who [was raped by] a [typical and representative] South Carolina [cop]…is suing the city of Travelers Rest…The [cop], Shawn Jenkins, was fired from the [cop shop] last year after…[the] Sheriff’s Office…[only] charged [him] with second-degree sexual misconduct…The plaintiff, who filed the suit anonymously, told investigators Jenkins pointed a department-issued stun gun at him while he was visiting Jenkins’ residence on Aug. 5, 2019, and told him to “strip or be tased”…The [then-underage victm] tried to run away, but [Jenkins] locked [him] inside a room [and raped him]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#974) 

As long as cops suffer no consequences for disobedience, laws like this are mere political grandstanding:

In Maine, voters in the state’s largest city recently enacted one of the toughest facial recognition bans in the country in the Nov. 3 elections, outlawing both use of the technology by local police and the city government…the measure codifies – [but adds only weak] enforcement teeth – to a ban…passed in August by the Portland City Council…The new law allows citizens to sue the city for illegal facial recognition surveillance by the city police or government.  Citizens could get [a mere] $1,000 per violation plus legal fees, if they prevail in court.  Municipal employees [but not cops] can be fired [but not criminally prosecuted] for violating the [law]…

Welcome to the Future (#1073)

Pasco County, Florida’s “predictive policing” scheme doesn’t spare minors:

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office keeps a secret list of kids it [pretend]s could “fall into a life of crime” based on factors like whether they’ve been abused or gotten a D or an F in school…the list [is created] by combining the rosters for most middle and high schools in the county with records so sensitive, they’re protected by state and federal law…Four hundred and twenty kids are [currently] on the list…[cops do]n’t tell the kids or their parents about the designation…an[d]…school…[administrators claim to have been] unaware…of [it as well]…The Department of Children and Families [refused to] answer…the Sheriff’s Office…use[s the list] to [target]…middle and high school…[students for surveillance and harassment euphemized as] “mentorship” and “resources”…Ten experts in law enforcement and student privacy…called the program…a clear misuse of children’s confidential information that stretched the limits of the law…

Legislators Gone Wild (#1086)

Why are Nevada brothel whores unable to open their mouths without vomiting out toxic whorearchy?

…[brothel whores unemployed] because of COVID-19…say they are being forced to make money in what they call dangerous, scary and illegal ways…the long shutdown is depleting their savings and they’re going broke waiting to work again.  That is forcing some of them to turn to things they didn’t want to to make money, like illegal prostitution.  One…says…”it’s so degrading and so scary”…Another…admits to illegally meeting with a Mustang Ranch regular…she trusted him but…he beat and choked her…two [say they] decided to turn a trick in Arizona…but…the…man…ended up holding them hostage in the bathroom at gun point…The madams also say they’re seeing some of their workers walking the streets now with…pimps…”If you walk into a casino, the floor is filled with illegal prostitutes and pimps”…

Apparently these whores are both incompetent and cursed, so that in a few months they’ve experienced more violence than every escort I know put together has experienced in years.

Dangerous Speech (#1087)

It’s symptomatic of the government’s deep moral rot that she wasn’t automatically disqualified:

On Nov. 18, veteran newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin took the extraordinary step of filing a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to intervene in their ongoing criminal case and order Judge Susan Brnovich to recuse herself from all future proceedings…her husband, Arizona Attorney General Mark…Brnovich, others on his behalf and organizations with which he is associated…have vilified Backpage, assumed its complicity in sex trafficking, and drawn conclusions about facts that will be at issue in the trial of Lacey, Larkin and their four co-defendants…[although] the AG’s inaccurate assumptions about Backpage go to the heart of the case and raise the specter of potential bias on behalf of the judge[, she has stubbornly refused to recuse herself]…

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Drugs are winning the war on drugs.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Suppression

Watch what you say in front of your children, comrade:

Conversations over the dinner table that incite hatred must be prosecuted under Scotland’s hate crime law, [a megalomaniacal politician bloviated]…Journalists and theatre directors should also face the courts if…Humza Yousaf [or some other censorious sociopath disagrees with them]…the…bill has been condemned by [supporters of human rights and even] the Scottish Catholic Church [and some cops]…It will introduce an offence of [magically] stirring-up of hatred against people [by witchcraft, but only if they belong to specially privileged classes]…Mr Yousaf said that there should be no “dwelling defence” in his bill. He told the Scottish parliament’s justice committee that children, family and house guests must be [forced to become informants for the pigs by threatening them with violence if they refuse]…

Election Day (#937) 

We are watching the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs:

Of nine drug decriminalization or legalization measures on state ballots [this week]…not a single one failed.  These were decisive victories, too, not close calls…In D.C., more than three-quarters of voters approved Initiative 81, declaring “that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi”—those that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, or psilocybin—among the lowest law enforcement priorities”…Arizona…voters were 59.85 percent in favor of legalization [of recreational cannabis]…In New Jersey, the proportion favoring legalization was…67 percent…In South Dakota, 69 percent approved the medical marijuana measure…and…[53%] the recreational marijuana measure…Montana saw nearly 57 percent of voters approve recreational marijuana…Mississippi, voters said yes to two medical marijuana measures…with…74 percent…in favor…Oregon’s measure to decriminalize non-commercial possession of all drugs saw…59 percent of voters approve…and nearly 56 percent of voters approved…the Psilocybin Services Act, which…[allows] licensed …providers to…[sell “magic”] mushroom and fungi products…

See also “The Clueless Leading the Hysterical” below.

Shame, Shame (#951)

Bird-brains still think realistic porn cartoons are the worst use for this technology:

Dangerous Speech (#1041)

The government keeps demonstrating that it doesn’t really care that its war on thought is wholly and incontrovertibly unconstitutional:

…Susan Brnovich, the presiding judge in the prosecution of [a half dozen former members of the Village Voice Media family],  is married to the state’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Mark Brnovich…we have argued — to no avail — that the judge has a conflict.  Previously Judge Douglas Rayes disqualified himself because he had a friendly relationship with attorneys on both sides of this case…Judge Susan, on the other hand, is sleeping with General Mark.  She sees no problem…Mark Brnovich published an incendiary —  and wildly inaccurate  — propaganda booklet attacking Backpage, the classified advertising platform, in 2018…In the absence of any disclosure by her that her husband had already set the table for her, we went to court under the impression that Susan was an impartial jurist…We have only recently connected these judicial dots courtesy of a curious attorney who asked: Did you know…?  We did not…The defendants then are left to ponder the pillow talk between these interlocutors…

(State) Violence Against Women

The “Violence Against Women Act” doesn’t fight its named subject; it promotes it:

…”mandatory arrest” policies…spread across the U.S. after the passage of the…Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), part of the infamous 1994 crime bill.  The man behind [it]…was…Joe Biden.  The parent bill, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994…has since been disavowed by Democrats and Republicans, including…Biden…But Biden and the broader Democratic Party are still boasting in 2020 about VAWA…the product of activist agendas and political convenience, written and sold on ideas and evidence that were either dubious or outright debunked…Biden’s law funneled billions to police and prosecutors to enact policies that put women in greater danger—and said victims’ wishes didn’t matter when they conflicted with what the state thought best…Democrat[s claim]…that 30 years ago, “domestic violence was treated as a private matter, not a heinous crime”…But [this] doesn’t square with the historical record …”Assaults and threats of physical violence against intimate partners have been illegal for centuries,” noted lawyer Leigh Goodmark in The New York Times last year…[even] Prohibition [was pushed using the common belief]…that drunkenness was the main cause of abuse…As Aya Gruber, a law professor…and former public defender, writes in…The Feminist War on Crime, “The nascent battered women’s movement was radical and antiauthoritarian at its core…[but quickly] transformed…into a propolicing, proprosecution lobby”…

Tissue of Lies (#1081)

The latest pig fad: collecting a bunch of unrelated raids, arrests & record updates and calling the resulting dog’s breakfast a “human trafficking sting”:

In what is [pretended by cops and prosecutors] to be the largest anti-human trafficking operation in state history, Ohio [pigs characterized a series of arrests of teenagers and adults as]…the…recover[y of] 45 missing children…and more 100 other human trafficking survivors…Hop[ing that nobody would notice the large amount of time the arrests were spread over, and that they were made by]…50 [diffient gangs of thugs]…Ohio Attorney General David Yost…[made furtive movements in his pants while describing the arrest of teenagers running away from abuse homes and/or living with non-custodial parents as] “lives that were rescued from this evil”…Yost [also seemed to lump the arrests of sex workers into his fantasy]…and…[tied it to] a two-week operation in Georgia that [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined and found that, by combining a variety of cases, pigs had intentionally and maliciously fostered a false perception that confused the public and harmed innocent people]…

Cops all over the US are apparently trying to shore up the dying “sex trafficking” mythology by combining a few arrests of sex workers and clients with mass arrests of teens in foster care and shelters and pretending they’re related.

To Molest and Rape (#1083)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

A Baltimore Police SWAT [thug]…has been charged with child sex abuse…Donald P. Hildebrandt …“denies all the charges against him, and adamantly maintains [that she wanted it]”…

Legislators Gone Wild (#1086)

Sex workers need to keep suing prohibitionists whenever possible:

…Alice Little, who works at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch…is taking legal action [against Nevada governor Steve Sisolak] because…he…is [discriminating against] sex workers [by refusing to allow brothels to do business] while allowing other high-contact businesses to reopen …“For months…tattoo shops and massage parlors…have been…open while the…brothels remain shuttered.  If it’s safe for a customer to get a massage at a massage parlor, then it should be safe for a customer to visit a…brothel…Sex workers like me are suffering financially and emotionally.  We have minimal options for economic relief and limited alternative employment opportunities due to our stigmatized work history”…Most strip clubs in Clark County are also still closed…Little is being represented by attorney Marc J. Randazza

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1086)

Reporters are finally getting that nobody is going to give expensive cannabis edibles to your spawn for free:

Since 1996…drug warriors and their credulous collaborators at newspapers and TV stations have repeatedly warned parents that seemingly friendly strangers might be trying to get their kids high on Halloween by passing off THC-infused candy as ordinary treats.  Yet none of those stories cited any actual examples…since substituting expensive marijuana edibles for cheap candy…offers no obvious payoff even for maliciously minded stoners…[but] after two decades of this nonsense…[some reporters] are starting to…show…appropriate skepticism…”No One’s Going to Give Your Kids Free Weed in Their Halloween Candy,” said the headline over an October 2019 Slate piece by Jane C. Hu…A week later, the Washington Examiner ran an opinion piece…with the same message…NBC News ran an essay by Simon Moya-Smith with this headline: “The Halloween tale of marijuana handed out to trick-or-treaters is as real as a ghost story.”  This month the Spokane Spokesman-Review noted that “tainted treats turn out to be mostly make-believe”…

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Police killing is not the work of vigilant warriors defending society…and sometimes going too far: it is the…petty tyranny of a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic lobby group.  –  Lyman Stone

The Proper Study (#652)

Another study proves what sex workers have been saying all along:

In a new study just published in The Journal of Sex Research…men…said paid sex offered them a space where they could overcome their insecurities and low self-esteem and sidestep their awkwardness in approaching women…paid sex allowed for a shared understanding of what was (and was not) going to follow sex.  Both the man paying for sex and the sex worker understood the nature of the transaction…with a sex worker, men said they did not worry about being sexually inexperienced…Some men indicated that through paid sex they actually could learn new sexual skills that they might use with other women in other circumstances…Paid sex was also described as giving some men a non-threatening context where they felt safe to engage in sex despite their sexual concerns, including the fear of being unable to have an erection…The findings further expand [academic] ideas of what it is that men are really buying when they pay for sex and suggests [amateurs]…underestimate the amount of emotional labor that goes into sex work…

I Spy (#958)

A politician claims that spying isn’t actually spying:

A secretive unit of the Maine State Police…gather[s] information about groups and organizations even when they are not suspected of crimes, including people who are participating in protests…Michael Sauschuck, the [chief pig] commissioner of…Maine…testified at a…legislative hearing about…a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by a state trooper…[who] was retaliated against after reporting that the intelligence unit illegally used surveillance tools to monitor innocent citizens…Sauschuck refused to directly respond to the allegations in the lawsuit…but…acknowledged under questioning that the center does [spy] on citizens, including groups that organize public protests…[yet still claimed]  “We’re not spying on people”…the Maine State Police might be using powerful new technologies to scan your face and intercept your cellphone signals, and don’t have to tell the public because of an unusual provision in state law…the center…also…participated in the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which involves [ratting out people they spy on]…to federal agencies [based on flimsy suspicions and]…racial profiling…

The Missing Word (#981)

If only there were a concise word for smuggling humans to sell them:

…Paul Petersen plead guilty to the offense of Conspiracy to Smuggle Illegal Aliens for Commercial Advantage and Private Financial Gain…Petersen…orchestrated the travel of several pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Western District of Arkansas…to arrange adoption of their children by families living in the United States…[even though that’s illegal under a] 1983 [compact between] the United States…and…the…RMI…

The Monsters Are Due (#1040)

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

After a chaotic saga unfolded…centering around two missing teenage girls and a [Milwaukee house fantasized to be] a sex trafficking hub…police said…there is no indication the girls were ever there — or that the house was used for such activity.  The girls, ages 13 and 15, were found by one of their mothers more than three miles away…[but before that] three people [were] shot — including two 14-year-olds — plus…a house [was] set on fire twice and an unknown number of [people were] hurt by the tear gas and rubber bullets police fired into a scattered crowd…

Whimsical Notions (#1051)

Since the “trafficked slaves” myth isn’t getting results any more, the government is now claiming sex workers are actually spies:

Trafficked women in Bahrain, some working as prostitutes, are seeking to collect sensitive intelligence from U.S. sailors that they can later sell, according to [NCIS spook]…Joe Minucci…in [an indoctrination video]…“they sell that information, and that’s how they make more money in order to get themselves out of the [lucrative job] they’re in,” he said…

Bread and Circuses (#1051)

FOSTA just keeps splashing egg all over the feds’ stupid, violent faces:

For years leading up to the passage of FOSTA, we were told that Congress had to pass the law…because so many women were “at risk” due to trafficking….[on] Backpage…of course, the actual stats that were provided turned out to be fake and Backpage was seized before the law was even passed.  The charges against the founders did not include sex trafficking charges…with all of the moral panic around the need to pass FOSTA,…the DOJ had not used the law a single time to go after any “sex trafficking” site.  Instead, as we predicted, the law was being used in nuisance lawsuits…Finally…the DOJ made use of FOSTA in shutting down a website and arresting its operator…the DOJ conveniently mashes together sex work and sex trafficking, because that’s the kind of thing law enforcement likes to do…[so] plenty of…sex workers, who previously had relied on Backpage to remain safe and now relied on Martono’s sites, are again put in danger.  The Hacking/Hustling collective…put out a press release calling out what a stupid, counterproductive move this is…

The Cop Myth (#1052)

Even political conservatives are beginning to recognize the danger of police violence:

[Cops murder] about 1,700 Americans every year.  In other words, police killings have made up about one out of every twelve violent deaths of Americans between 2010 and 2018…including American military deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere during that window.  Indeed, more Americans died at the hands of [cops] during that period (about 14,400) than died while on active military duty (about 9,400).  Police violence in America is…disproportionate to the actual threats facing [cops]…historically, police unionization has led directly to increases in police killings, but no change in crime…When incompetent DMV workers are not fired, when abusive teachers are reshuffled around schools, when bureaucrats use administrative gimmicks to thwart the electorate’s desire to rein in excessive spending, we conservatives are quick to (correctly!) identify the pernicious work of public-sector unions.  Whereas all workers should have some say in their employment conditions, such as via unionization, public-sector workers already get a say in their employment conditions without a union: they get to vote on who their boss is!  Public sector unions give the bureaucrats double the “votes” of the rest of us…The difference is that, unlike other public sector unions, police unions have military-grade equipment they can use to violently crush protests against their abuses, and they are legally immune from most consequences.  They’re teachers’ unions, but with tanks and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards…

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The government has adopted a win-at-all-costs approach and [an attitude] that the ends justify the means.  –  Michael Piccarreta

Elephant in the Parlor

Politician takes bribes, hires whores.  Yawn.

…federal [documents]…suggest…a years-long trail of bribery between City Councilmember Jose Huizar and a Chinese development firm with a megaproject slated for downtown Los Angeles…[real estate broker] George Chiang…started a real estate consulting company in 2014…that directed money, consulting fees, casino chips, flights on private jets, luxury hotel stays, prostitutes and escort services between developers…[politicians] and [bureaucrats]…in exchange for approval of an 80,000-square foot commercial project and other downtown developments…

Dangerous Speech (#958)

The government keeps demonstrating that it doesn’t really care that its war on thought is wholly and incontrovertibly unconstitutional:

fiery motion to dismiss filed in the Lacey/Larkin case on May 1…accuses the U.S. Department of Justice of “outrageous government misconduct,” claiming federal pettifoggers and government agents repeatedly trampled upon the defendants’ attorney-client privileges…despite repeated warnings from defense counsel…and two [court] orders…the government continued to question former Backpage CEO and owner Carl Ferrer concerning confidential legal advice that was subject to joint defense and representation agreements with other defendants…the government grilled Ferrer repeatedly through “seven successive interviews” over the course of 13 months, beginning the day of his plea deal…In doing so…the government engaged in “outrageous” and “unconstitutional” misconduct.  Prosecutors “willfully invaded” Lacey and Larkin’s attorney-client privileges in order to “gain a tactical advantage in the case,” thereby violating the defendants’ Fifth Amendment right to due process of law and their Sixth Amendment right to counsel…Barring outright dismissal, the motion asks for an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the harm done to the defendants and possible sanctions against the government, such as the exclusion of Ferrer as a witness, the suppression of other evidence, or the disqualification of the entire prosecution team…

Negative Secondary Effects (#974)

The human cost of a prohibitionist crusade:

In March 2019 my life was turned upside down…by feminist groups who said I needed saving…Becoming a dancer at Sheffield’s Spearmint Rhino was the best thing I’d ever done.  It gave me the confidence I desperately lacked…[but then] Not Buying It sent private [dicks] into our club to buy lap dances and secretly film the women dancing.  They did this to “prove” to Sheffield Council that Spearmint Rhino was in breach of its own code of conduct and should have its licence revoked.  They filmed women naked and without their consent, and this was only the beginning…it traumatised the women …[and] hurt their families, their friends and their children…the ensuing campaign to close our club left me extremely anxious and scared to go to work…I was paranoid that every person who came into the club was another undercover investigator trying to take my job away.  I was always on edge, watching people, checking buttons for cameras, looking in people’s ears to see if they were wearing earpieces.  I was hyper-aware of customers who used their mobile phones and frightened that they were secretly recording me.  It was torture.  Work went from being the place I felt safest to a place I felt judged and under attack…

Business As Usual (#1001)

Every so often one of these sadly-typical stories gets more media attention:

Agents with…DHS…in Arizona have been “fighting” human trafficking by sending federal immigration agents to [rape women they claim to be]…victims…[then] seizing their assets, and telling the press it was these women who were the real predators.  Federal agents [raped] at least 17…”Asian females” working in massage parlors around Mohave County, Arizona, over a five-month period in 2018…the years-long operation yielded three misdemeanor charges…[the] scenario…is far from an isolated incidentnational and mainstream media have been discovering and disapproving of “Operation Asian Touch.”  This is great—so long as nobody mistakes what happened in Mohave County for an atypical investigation.  If you track initial claims about massage parlor-based human trafficking through to their actual conclusions, you’ll almost always find law enforcement simply targeting sex workers, small-business owners, immigrants, and the people who patronize them with harassment, assault, arrest, property seizure, prosecution, detainment, and deportation. And the “victims” they allegedly set out to save frequently wind up facing criminal charges.  There are only two roles women can play in this Homeland Security-led charade: helpless sex slave or conniving human trafficker.  (Both types…are invited to stroke ICE agent penises)…

I Spy (#1006)

But please, tell me more about “wings” and “blue states” and “democracy”:

The U.S. Senate comfortably approved a 2-1/2-year extension of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)…by 80-16, far more than the 60 votes needed for passage.  The measure must be approved…by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Donald Trump to veto or sign into law…

Like Houses (#1031)

All they were waiting for was a strong enough excuse:

In India, the COVID-19 crisis is turning out to be the perfect excuse for the government to consolidate its pre-pandemic surveillance ambitions.  Since May 4, as restrictions began to ease, the government has mandated the installation of its contact-tracing smartphone app for anyone who works…or uses public transport.  Failing to do so is criminal…Unsurprisingly, digital rights and civil society organizations are pushing back on the new di[ktat]…

Reawakening

A high-profile example of the quiet rebellion that’s already started everywhere in the US:

Alameda County [bureaucrats] backed down in their conflict with Elon Musk, reversing their shutdown order and granting provisional approval for Tesla’s Fremont, California plant to reopen.  Musk had already reopened the plant for business in defiance of the lockdown order, tweeting …”If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me“…Musk’s civil disobedience against the COVID lockdown regime is a high-profile instance of a wider trend…

Social Distancing (#1036)

At its core, Australia is still prohibitionist:

…as Australia eases itself out of COVID-19 restrictions…in [a] three-stage framework…strip clubs and brothels were specifically listed “to remain closed” even in stage three…other businesses with…skin-to-skin contact – like waxing, massages, tattoos, bathhouses and saunas – are allowed to open in stage three.  Scarlet Alliance CEO Jules Kim [said]…”We hoped this…outbreak wouldn’t be used as an excuse to turn back…gains made in sex worker legislation, but it’s hard to see this as anything but discrimination, considering similar businesses are allowed”…federal [bureaucrats] recommended brothels and strip club venues should stay shut [indefinitely]…sole operator sex workers…are banned after being classed as “non-essential”

Meanwhile, over in New Zealand:

The national lift to COVID-19 alert level 2 means it’s business as usual for many Kiwis, including sex workers…The New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective (NZPC) released guidelines for sex workers on their website…with a checklist of hygiene practices and safety measures workers, brothels and massage parlours should be implementing…

Torture Chamber (#1038)

No human is truly free while governments claim the “right” to lock people in filthy, disease-ridden cages:

In the vast majority of the world’s overcrowded and underfunded prisons…physical distancing is simply not an option.  In situations where close confinement, shared facilities and spaces and poor hygiene are commonplace…prison[ers]…are living in constant fear of the ticking COVID-19 time bomb…UNAIDS, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are calling on leaders to make detention a last resort, to close drug rehabilitation detention centres and to decriminalize sex work, same-sex sexual relations and drug use.  They are urging countries to release the people who can be released…The Government of Ethiopia…has released more than 30,000 prisoners and has heightened sanitation measures.  Indonesia is releasing more than 50,000…Iran is releasing 40% of its total prison population, 100,000 people, while Chile is set to release around 50,000 people…

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Government demands for new…surveillance powers are all too familiar.  –  Adam Schwartz

Feminine Pragmatism 

I’m sure a “pimp” must be forcing her to do this:

…The sudden disappearance of paychecks, combined with a wide array of monthly debt payments and the declines in any investments, is forcing some millennials to take desperate measures…Jayci Cumberledge…in Amherst, Ohio…spent her last $80 in savings to make her monthly car payment shortly after the gastro pub where she worked closed in mid-March…She has since made some money by selling pictures of her feet to people with fetishes who found her online after she put a joking post on Twitter…

Dangerous Speech (#954)

The government’s case against the former owners of Backpage is totally unraveling:

…On March 30, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt federal prosecutors yet another setback in the government’s two-year-long quest to [steal] millions of dollars in publishing assets belonging to veteran newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, former owners of the 17-paper Village Voice Media chain of alt-weeklies and co-founders of the now-defunct…Backpage…Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kucera had sought to block a First Amendment challenge by Lacey and Larkin to the seizures, lamely arguing — much as he had a year ago…that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.  But a two-judge panel of the Ninth rejected Kucera’s motion to dismiss…the same judges [also] granted Lacey and Larkin’s request to expedite their appeal, warning the government that no requests for extensions of time would be approved “absent extraordinary and compelling circumstances.”  With an April 28 deadline set for the government’s response, and an optional reply from the appellants due 21 days thereafter, oral arguments concerning the civil asset seizures could be scheduled as early as June…

Working From Home

The hypocrisy of the prohibitionist New York Times is appalling:

As 16 million people in the United States have applied for unemployment benefits in the last [few] weeks, a rush of people…have sought new work performing in sexually explicit live broadcasts.  And, as nearly half the world is under some form of stay-at-home orders, people who do this work are also seeing a large growth in customers…The performers work for tips, to [circumvent] laws that [criminalize] sex work…CamSoda…said there had been a 37 percent increase in new model sign-ups this March…ManyVids…[saw] a 69 percent increase…But this growth isn’t always translating into more money for the models…[who report that] new viewers aren’t tipping as much as they typically would…

You Were Warned (#1023)

We told you so, over and over and over again:

…the EARN IT Act…[is designed to destroy] Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and…possibly encrypted communication writ large, under the guise of (what else?) protecting children…Signal developer Joshua Lund said in a blog post…that Signal would face insurmountable financial burdens as a result of the law and would therefore be forced to leave the US market rather than undermine its encryption to stay.  Given that Signal is recommended and used across the Department of Defense, Congress, and other parts of the US government, this would be a seemingly problematic outcome for everyone…

Like Houses (#1027)

Government can always be counted on to use any excuse to expand tyranny:

From cellphone tracking to drone eyes in the sky, perused health records, and GPS ankle bracelets, an epidemic of surveillance-state measures is spreading across the world…in the name of battling the spread of COVID-19…since every crisis is used to justify incursions into our liberty.  But long after the virus has done its worst and moved on, we’re likely to be stuck with these invasions of our privacy—unless we push back, hard…China…force[d] people to install cellphone apps that assigned them a code according to (allegedly) their perceived risk of spreading contagion.  Permission to travel or enter public spaces depended on that code even as the software also tracked their whereabouts and [handed] data on users’ phones [to] the authorities…South Korea…tracked people’s cellphones and credit card usage…Spanish authorities turned to aerial drones to detect unauthorized gatherings of people—already a cringe-worthy concept for those of us disinclined to ask permission to meet with friends.  Loudspeakers on the drones then ordered violators to return home…in the U.S., government officials joined with tech companies to paw through the location data that most of us share with cellphone apps…Privacy [laws] have also been [violated] to allow [government officials to root through] patients’ medical records

Social Distancing (#1028)

Amber DiPietra on the US disaster compensation check:

There is NO QUESTION on the 1040 form that asks what you do for employment or who you work for.  The only questions regarding employment is “occupation” and you can state that you are self-employed…Everything you have read…about our community members not being eligible for the stimulus check is NOT TRUE…there is no indication that independent workers or “gig” workers will not get a stimulus check.  Adult oriented BUSINESSES like Porn companies and Cam Platforms, will not be eligible for the BUSINESS stimulus LOAN…EVERYONE who files a 2019 tax return will get a stimulus check.  If you DON’T file a 2019 return, you will definitely NOT get a stimulus check…People who are on social security or disability WILL receive a stimulus check AUTOMATICALLY…

Social Distancing (#1029)

The government of Japan seems more susceptible to shaming than that of the US:

Japan has reportedly reversed its decision to discriminate against sex workers who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…Health and Labor Minister Kazunobu Kato declared that Japan’s legal sex workers will be eligible to receive government assistance…the…original…plan…was widely criticized for being discriminatory…It is unclear how self-employed sex workers would be treated…

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I’ve got an article on the damage inflicted by FOSTA in the new print edition of Reason, and I think y’all should show your support by picking one up!  But if you have neither subscription nor newsstand handy, here it is online.  A sample to get you started:

That prohibitionist laws are always, always, enforced more heavily upon the poor, the disadvantaged, and minorities is not, I think, controversial.  One would have to contort one’s brain in a manner worthy of a Cirque du Soleil performance to ignore the facts that cops more heavily patrol poor and minority neighborhoods and actively look for people to arrest; that judges and juries have less sympathy for those they perceive as “others”; and that, because poor people overwhelmingly lack the resources to mount an adequate criminal defense (or even bail), they are far more likely to plead guilty to whatever a prosecutor offers, just so they can get it over with and at least try to get back to their lives…Most of y’all reading this probably already know that while white and nonwhite Americans use recreational drugs at roughly equal rates, minorities are arrested more frequently, charged more heavily, and more frequently caged (and for longer terms).  And most of y’all can probably guess that it’s the same with sex work:  While there are sex workers and clients of every description, sex workers of color, trans sex workers, and street workers are dramatically more likely to be hassled, arrested, and even robbed or raped by police than their white, cisgender, and indoor-working counterparts.  Black trans street workers, falling into all of these groups, practically have targets painted on their backs; they’re often arrested merely for daring to show their faces outdoors, a phenomenon that activists call “walking while trans.”  The same is true for their clients:  Poor minority men who can only afford the (generally lower-priced) services of street workers are far more likely to be ensnared by policewomen looking to entrap them into committing a crime than are affluent white men who visit “high-end” escorts who discreetly do business in apartments or houses in “nice” neighborhoods.  In one raid a few years ago, nearly every surname of the men arrested in a “john sting” in Seattle was Hispanic, despite the fact that Seattle is, to put it politely, much less ethnically diverse than most U.S. cities…

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Moral panics are a natural, if unfortunate, byproduct of the tribal instincts of the great ape called homo sapiens.  They tend to last roughly a generation from start to finish (sometimes, mercifully, a little shorter) and can cause tremendous damage to individuals’ lives and society in general before they’re over.  Clever sociopaths have always found ways to profit from these periodic waves of hysteria; for example, evil opportunists would often hurl accusations of witchcraft at widows whose land they wanted to steal.  But the first major moral panic of the internet era (the Satanic Panic was already moribund by the time AOL began its first major marketing campaign) has created a market for profiting from hysterical propaganda on a scale never before seen in human history.  It’s impossible to even guess how large what Laura Agustín dubbed the “rescue industry” has grown, but when its connections to the garment industry are considered, it’s probably safe to say that it’s comparable in size to its own imaginary claims about “sex trafficking”.  In 2011 the propagandists declared January “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month”, probably due to the increasing popularity of the myth that the Super Bowl, which is held in the first few days of February, is a huge driver of “sex trafficking”, with huge cargoes of “sex slaves” trucked into every host city, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transportation and lodging.  Cops and other police-state organs have taken advantage of the hype as an excuse to present their pogroms and “stings” as “sex trafficking operations”, and as a result every January now produces an avalanche of idiotic propaganda (absurdly referred to as “education” or “raising awareness”) that is shockingly stupid even by the very low standards of “sex trafficking” propaganda.  Take this incredible mass of lies from KAKE in Wichita, Kansas:

…“Back Page [sic] needed to be shut down,” [oinked vice pig] Brent Huhman…“they were exploiting…women”…It was considered a hotbed for human trafficking, which can lead to missing people.  The site’s creators would defend the user-posted advertisements…they were not responsible for [under section 230 of the CDA]…However, [federal propaganda claimed] it…pushed moderators to approve [questionable]…ads [despite ample evidence to the contrary]…

The rest is the usual hodgepodge of local “news” copsucking, yellow journalism, parent-scaring, bogus math, BDSM sexual fantasies, surveillance cheerleading and more.  This article from KDRV in Medford, Oregon is every bit as moronic:

Oregon police report that they encounter 3-5 victims of human trafficking per week; 80% of these victims are women, 50% are children.  “People don’t realize that sex trafficking with children is a silent epidemic in the United States,” said Kirsten Arreguin…of Redemption Ridge…“Portland is the second largest city for forced child prostitution in the United States right after Las Vegas”…Traffickers spend considerable time in areas where children congregate such as parks, malls, youth shelters and on social media in order to carefully lure their victims into sex slavery…

It is a sign of the incredible mathematical illiteracy rampant in the US that nobody questions a “report” which begins with “statistics” that add up to 130% (children cannot be women and vice versa, so the categories cannot overlap).  And the prohibitionist sexual fantasy of “pimps” hanging out at every playground is so sick that one has to wonder how anyone higher on the evolutionary scale than a cop could possibly take it seriously, until one considers that these are the same mouth-breathers who claim there are more “sex trafficking” cases in Oregon alone than in the entire United States (“…jail intelligence suggests approximately 595 minors and 1,191 adults are currently victims of sex trafficking currently in the Portland metro area…“); presumably “jail intelligence” is Copese for “tall tales told by prisoners trying to get on cops’ good sides”, because there aren’t even 500 full-service sex workers in Portland, much less “child sex slaves” (this fantasy claims about 1 “sex slave” per 400 adult men in the area).  Support for sex worker rights is growing all the time, and even some of the usual suspects are beginning to recognize prohibition for what it is.  But cops, politicians and profiteers are going to continue publicly masturbating while riding the gravy train until it finally runs off the rails for good.

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