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Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

Elizabeth Nolan Brown is the queen of whore allies.  For the past several years she has relentlessly pursued every item she can find about sex work and the “sex trafficking” hysteria that authoritarians are using to persecute us, drilling down to the truth and splattering the propaganda that most mainstream journalists eagerly swallow whole while making “nom nom nom” noises.  But every so often she writes something huge, like her exposé of the facts behind the 2016 takedown of Seattle’s The Review Board.  And this week she released another such piece:  a thorough look at what I recently called “Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin[‘s]…long, strange trip from student antiwar activists to props in the government’s manufactured ‘sex trafficking’ hysteria.”  The article is what this piece in Politico could’ve been had the reporter been more interested in getting at the truth than in demonstrating how much of the dick of power he could get down without gagging.  It deserves to be read in its entirety, but here are a few excerpts to tease it:

…Lacey and Larkin, ages 69 and 70, respectively, are confined by court order to Maricopa County and stuck wearing homing devices under their pant legs to ensure it…Their confinement will last through 2020, when their trial is scheduled.  Their bank accounts have already been seized. “Everything has been brutal,” says Larkin.  Both men argue that the case against them is politically motivated and that current stalling on the state’s part is designed to force a plea.  But “they’re going to have to win this in court,” says Lacey, “and we don’t think they can.  And our lawyers don’t think they can.”  Officially, Larkin, Lacey, and several of their former colleagues were accused of money laundering, conspiracy, and violating the Travel Act, which says local crimes become federal business when they cross state lines.  But in the court of public opinion, you’ll hear that they were complicit in facilitating underage prostitution as the founders and former owners of the now-shuttered classified ad website Backpage…

…Neither Lacey nor Larkin is accused of directly participating in any sexual exchange or of having knowledge about any particular crimes advanced through the platform.  In fact, law enforcement sources have over the years consistently applauded Backpage for its help making cases against predators and locating runaway teens.  The story of their arrest, then, is better understood as one of near-religious fervor, government greed, and political retribution, in which an escalating panic over commercial sex coincided with a booming online publishing platform.  “We didn’t go looking for this fight,” says Lacey, whose knuckles are tattooed with the words HOLD FAST.  “But we didn’t back away from it either”…

…Neither Lacey nor Larkin expected serious trouble.  New Times “had personals from day one,” says Larkin. “We’ve had adult advertising from 1970.”  Initially, the relationship between Backpage and law enforcement agents was cordial and cooperative.  Ads that directly indicated underage or forced prostitution were blocked and reported to NCMEC and law enforcement, as were posts deemed suspicious or likely to contain images of someone under 21, the legal threshold for missing children.  Backpage lawyers gave tutorials at national police conferences on how to work with Backpage records staff for investigative purposes, and management met with NCMEC monthly.  CEO Carl Ferrer also testified in sexual exploitation cases, and Backpage staff were described by authorities as quick and cooperative in responding to records subpoenas—around 100 per month by 2011.  Statements from a wide array of officials highlight the site’s value to investigators in solving cases, often noting how much more helpful it was than other web forums…

…”This is the biggest speech battle in America right now,” Lacey adds.  “The First Amendment isn’t about protecting the rights of the McLaughlin Group to speak their mind on television.  This is specifically what the fuck it’s about.  Unpopular speech.  Dangerous speech.  Speech that threatens the norm.  Not only do we have that right, our readers have that right.  The [Backpage] posters have that right…We spent 40 years doing journalism, groundbreaking journalism, and they want to take all that away,” he says—because “they don’t like who exercised their constitutional rights to use our advertising platform”…

What are you waiting for?  Go read it already!

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I am a mid level ($250/hr) escort in a large US city and have been in the business for a dozen or more years, and I’ve never seen so many clients assume they can have sex without a condom.  It used to be if they even asked for bareback I wouldn’t even see them; now that request is more than half the people I speak with, and a good percentage think they can just hop on bareback without even asking.  Is it because I am older?  One guy said he assumed I would be OK with it because I can’t get pregnant (which isn’t even correct).  Haven’t these idiots heard of STIs?  Also, what is the definition of GFE?  A good portion of men now seem think it means BBFS.  That has never been my definition of those letters.

It’s not because you’re older; it’s because of the government’s war on us.  The increase in stings and persecution of clients has made some guys either stop seeing escorts for a while, or stick with girls they already know and trust, or turn to higher-priced girls with a bigger web presence.  That means a lot of the semi-pros and low-priced full-timers don’t get the business they did only a few years ago, and some of them have (understandably) become more desperate because of that.  Some are lowering prices, others are relaxing screening, and some are doing bareback to catch the foolish guys others are turning away.  Also, with the demise of Backpage, a lot of the budget providers who advertised there don’t know where to turn & can’t afford more expensive ad sites like Eros or Slixa; a lot of the guys who were able to find “anything goes” semi-pros on Backpage are also flooding into other ad sites & they don’t know the rules.  So the whole market is in chaos, and mid-range providers like you are forced to deal with stupid yo-yos who think “STI” is a government agency.

I’ve been in the business since the ‘90s, and I can state categorically that GFE does not and never has meant “bareback”; it has always meant a style that’s more relaxed & friendly, with conversation, kissing & cuddling.  In fact, I remember arguing on hooker boards around 2010 with guys who were trying to claim it meant some checklist of activities (which it doesn’t & never has), but even then everyone understood it did not mean bareback.  I’m not sure where the idea that it does came from, but this is the second time recently I’ve heard this; the other was on Twitter, where someone quoted from an idiot cop’s claim to a court that GFE and PSE both mean “bareback”.  My only guess is that over the past decade some group of really dumb hobbyists, probably on a “bros before hos” site like TER, intentionally decided to try to shift the meaning of GFE (because they’re stupid and think with the wrong head), and now that their site has been shut down due to FOSTA they’re spilling out into the general community and can only be stopped from their filthy habits by scrupulous professionals like us. 

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Humans have been exchanging sex for money and goods for thousands of years.  No act of government will end the practice.  –  Adam Sullivan

Counterfeit Comfort

How does government fight imaginary high recidivism rates?  By enacting policies designed to dramatically magnify the social isolation that increases recidivism, of course!

An Ohio [man] who spent three years in jail for a sex crime with an 18-year-old [woman] is not allowed to live with or write to his son, 14, because the boy is a minor.  He is also not allowed to talk to him on the phone or even possess a photo of him.  Now the dad has filed a federal lawsuit claiming these parole conditions are unconstitutional …his crime wasn’t with a male or a minor.  And yet, under Ohio’s five year mandatory “post-release control,” he cannot visit his son without [supervision] by a parole officer, whom he must pay. Unemployed, the dad can’t afford a visit.  And the rules say that even during a supervised visit, he would not be allowed to hug his son…”he is forbidden from moving back to the family home or having any contact with his son. He could not send his son a card or call him on his 14th birthday“…

Creating the Crisis

More accurate headline: “How Romania Became a Prohibitionist Bogeyman”:

Berlin…residents [use their magic mind-reading powers to declare that migrant sex workers] from Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine….did not have the German sex industry on their minds when they [supposedly] imagined [childish fantasies about] bright futures for themselves in the EU, just as Romania did not envisage prostitution becoming one of its leading “exports” after it joined the EU in 2007.  But official statistics from Germany and some other EU member states show that Romanian nationals represent a significant portion of sex workers in these countries.  “When talking about sex trafficking, Romania is [fantasized] as one of the trend setters in Europe, next to Albania,” [proclaimed] Silvia Martis Tabusca, an international law professor specializing in migration…

Torture Chamber

What our government calls a “correctional facility”:

…in the El Paso County Jail in Colorado, [sow] Sandra Rincon was celebrated with a tiara, a “princess” plate, and a cake with the number “50” on top.  The number…referred to the number of times she had used force against prisoners, ranging from handcuffing to punching and kicking.  She was the winner of what one of the county [screws] called a “fight club,” crowning whoever used force most often as the champion.  The “fight club” competition was uncovered in the course of a lawsuit filed by civil rights attorney Darold Killmer…[for] excessive force against his client, Philippa McCully…the county settled McCully’s case for $675,000.  The uncovering of the “fight club” did lead to an investigation, but [as always] that investigation  fell far short of being genuine…There were…no demotions, no transfers, [no criminal charges] or dock of pay for anyone involved…[Let’s hope] the county’s dismissal of the “fight club” as simply bad judgment…exacerbates the distrust between the community and [the count’s hired thugs]…[and even] further erode it…

Whither Canada?

Why does this journalist feel compelled to cede ground to prohibitionist lies?

When Canada decided to tackle prostitution by adopting “end demand” laws, it was supposed to make sex work safer and healthier.  But precisely the opposite has happened, according to new research presented at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam…Researchers from both Canada and France found that…the Nordic model, or “end demand” approach – actually made life worse for sex workers by pushing the trade further into the shadows, making it more difficult to negotiate prices and condom use, and making it less likely that workers would access health services…Elena Argento…a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, studied 854…sex workers…Hélène Le Bail, a researcher at Sciences Po CERI in Paris, said the “end demand” approach was supposed to be more progressive but France has seen the same problems as Canada…Her research, which involved 691 sex workers, showed that “end demand” laws have resulted in an “acute increase in socioeconomic vulnerability”…and [contrary to the sale pitch] sex workers are still more likely to be arrested and fined than their clients…

No, Canada’s Swedish model law was not “supposed to make sex work safer and healthier”; like all versions of the Swedish filth, it was specifically intended to make sex work more dangerous:

Full of Themselves (#630)

It’s good to see at least a few masseuses recognizing that they need to stand with sex workers rather than getting in bed with pigs and prohibitionists:

[Politicians] in several Iowa communities are considering moves to [harass]…massage businesses…[that pigs claim] are selling illegal sex services, and some [pompous] massage therapists say they give the industry a bad reputation.  [Prohibitionists pretend] their main concern…is…sex trafficking…However, [prohibitionists intentionally] conflat[e]…human trafficking with…sex work…“We act as though people with vaginas should not be choosing when or why they have sex and who they have it with.  Effectively it’s saying that they couldn’t possibly make decisions about their own bodies,” said Jaime Nevins, an Iowa City licensed massage therapist and an advocate for sex workers’ rights.  Nevins…[told] Iowa City [politicians]…“It’s like you can’t really be against [the proposed regulations] or you’ll be pro-sex trafficking, or perceived as that”…Bans on sex work are…similar to drug and alcohol restrictions.  Prohibition inevitably leads to underground markets..Violence thrives in secrecy…

Rough Trade (#769)

As I’ve mentioned many times, US sex workers are arrested for being raped:

…a 30-year-old woman…was [drugged and] raped and then “dumped out” near a [Nashville gas] station…several calls [reported] a [woman]…walking in the middle of the road crying, and possibly intoxicated…staff at the [gas] station had come to the aid of the woman in distress, [but by contrast]…the…police [protected and served her by arresting]…her…for public intoxication, though they clearly note in documents that she had no smell of alcohol, but was likely under the influence of an unknown drug…[then after] she admitted that…she [is a sex worker]…she was taken directly to booking, without any testing of the drugs in her system, any rape kit done, or even knowing if she was drugged by the man, or took the drugs willingly…then charged…with prostitution…

Paint By Numbers (#784)

WTF, Teen Vogue?  You’ve been doing so well, and now you publish “sex trafficking” nonsense, complete with taped mouths and red Xs?

There are different estimates of the number of victims in the world today, but virtually all [prohibitionists] agree that it’s in the millions…there are many…sources [of propaganda] to help you learn more [nonsense you can use to harm sex workers by]…calling or texting the National Human Trafficking Hotline when you [imagine] signs of human trafficking, or [supporting] anti-[sex] legislation…whatever your background and interests, you can [make up] unique [publicity stunts or just mindlessly participate…in…[deeply stupid herd activities like standing around on lawns, getting dressed or drawing] a red X

Pyrrhic Victory (#785)

Tyranny always starts with despised minorities, but it never stops with them:

[Western journalists visiting] the city of Kashgar in westernmost China…are [harassed by police]…we’re being tailed by some eight people and three cars…The minute we strike up conversation with anyone, officials appear and start interrogating them…Nowhere in the world, not even in North Korea, is the population monitored as strictly as it is in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region…Oppression has…worsened massively in recent months…Beijing has…turned Xinjiang into a security state that is extreme even by China’s standards…With around 500 [government thugs]…for every 100,000 inhabitants, the police presence will soon be almost as tight as it is in neighboring Tibet…cameras illuminat[e] every street all over the region, from the capital Urumqi to the most remote mountain village.  Iris scanners and WiFi sniffers are in use in stations, airports and at the ubiquitous checkpoints…an “integrated joint operations platform”…stores further data on the populace — from consumer habits to banking activity, health status and indeed the DNA profile of every single inhabitant of Xinjiang…The government has built up a grid of hundreds of re-education camps.  Tens of thousands of people have disappeared into them in recent months.  [Expert on China Adrian] Zenz estimates the number to be closer to hundreds of thousands…

The Puritan Recrudescence (#820) 

Porn is abuse of women!

…Patricia Hill, 69, of Jefferson County, Arkansas, has been charged with the capital murder of her husband, 65-year-old Frank Hill..Mrs  Hill…said she confronted her husband in the shed after she “disagreed with her husband’s purchase of video pornography via the television guide, which she cancelled upon discovering the purchase but Mr Hill managed to place a subsequent order”…After her husband refused to leave [his own home as] she [demanded]…Patricia Hill went back inside the home to arm herself with a .22 caliber pistol.  She then returned to the shed and…shot him in the leg and head…Hill confirmed that that there had never been any physical altercations between her and her husband prior to the night of the shooting…

If anything is a “public health crisis”, it’s violent prohibitionism.

This Means War

Though this article about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin has some good information on their long, strange trip from student antiwar activists to props in the government’s manufactured “sex trafficking” hysteria, it buys into that hysteria far too much to be read without an entire carton of salt, especially when it promotes the government-friendly view that the pair were no longer “real” journalists (a claim anyone who’s ever talked to Lacey in particular for more than about half an hour knows is 9944/100% pure bullshit).  Look also for the subtle pearl-clutching, complete with scare quotes around ordinary words, like, “On deadline days for escort ads, the offices of New Times publications filled with young women wearing skimpy outfits and too much perfume…I witnessed firsthand this weekly parade of ‘escorts’ at two papers owned by Lacey and Larkin...”

Rooted in Racism (#846) 

An especially egregious case of deliberate racial profiling by government-approved guidelines:

Three Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants are [bizarrely] being hailed as heroes after they [harassed] a group of [travelers that they had racist sex fantasies about]…Flight attendant Wesley Hirata [claimed] he sensed something wasn’t right [because] an older Asian man [was traveling with two white women and their younger sister] from Los Angeles to Honolulu.  Hirata [conspired with] other flight attendants who [interrogated] the [women] – revealing that one of them was [a legal minor] and all three had the same name [as one would expect of unmarried sisters]…The attendants informed the captain [that there was a family on board] and [somehow decided this was grounds for snitching to the pigs] in Honolulu.  Upon arrival in Hawaii the group was questioned by local police, who referred the case to the FBI…[who] soon established [that the sisters were indeed sisters]…and the man was a…[family friend] travelling…with them [and not a sinister Fu Manchu-like character out of these bigots’ racist sex fantasies]…

Choke Point (#850) 

Useful idiots are unable to understand how precedent works:

…Bank of America customer[s] might be getting questions about…citizenship status and even have…accounts frozen with no warning.  KCTV…photographer…Josh Collins…received a mailer claiming to be sent by Bank of America that asked for personal information and citizenship information.  However, he has been a Bank of America customer for 20 years and was born a U.S. citizen, so he figured it could be a scam and that the bank would follow up if it was legitimate.  The next thing he knew, his accounts were frozen without notice…The bank representative told Collins…his…“cards ha[d] been lost or stolen.”  That was not true…They eventually unfroze Collins’ accounts, but not before sending an email notifying him all of his automatic bill payment accounts were wiped out…the bank explained that…they would be asking this of all their customers…Bank of America [blamed]…”law” [for the harassment]…

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers, gun owners or migrants, but never stops there.

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FOSTA is so universally despised, Congress took the unprecedented and bizarre step of making a propaganda video to support it:

Mike Masnick of Techdirt has already gone off on this video, but I was especially appalled at the incredible assertion that “FOSTA has shut down 90% of ‘sex trafficking’ on the internet”.  If you’re wondering what bogus study that figure came from, permit me to explain:  It was made up, just like all “sex trafficking” numbers.  I know that may sound glib, but it’s the truth; in eight years of studying this, I’ve found the majority of the numbers used by prohibitionists are literally just invented out of thin air.  To start with, “sex trafficking” doesn’t mean any specific thing; “authorities” use it to mean any of several dozen things, from irregular border crossing to ordinary sex work.  Then even if you’re talking about a specific crime, how would such figures be determined?  The only way we get figures for any “crime” is by either convictions or filed complaints.  But this supposed “crime” is claimed to be secret, so…where would “authorities” find the figures?  And even if they did, such reports take time to compile; they don’t just spring into being from the head of the FBI director like some warped Athena.  Notice that actual crime figures always refer to the calendar last year, or even further back; they can’t be determined in real time.  Therefore, this is a blatant & egregious lie, not even an exaggeration or distortion.  The only “source” for this I can even imagine is the oft-repeated claim that Backpage was responsible for some huge (indeterminate and ever-changing) fraction of “online sex trafficking”; if we accepted that this lie was actually true, and the claimed number had been 90% (which I’m sure has been the claimed figure somewhere), then it might follow some kind of warped logic.  The only problem with that notion is that FOSTA wasn’t used to shut down Backpage; that happened days before FOSTA was signed, and the charges are just the typical “money laundering” and other BS federal charges.  No FOSTA charges were made.  So I repeat: the number is simply a lie without even the most tenuous basis in reality, previously-released propaganda or public fantasy.  It’s just a damned lie.

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Sex work is like any other kind of work and should be treated as such.  –  Anja Derungs

Acting and Activism 

Not an article you’d see in the US:

…Celebrities…[such as] Ashton Kutcher, Ricky Martin, Demi Moore, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Emma Thompson have all been extensively involved in [so-called] anti-trafficking campaigns…Recently, comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Meyers starred in a [propaganda video] in support of…new [censorship] legislation in the US to curtail sex work in the name of preventing sex trafficking…Celebrities…bridge the gap between brand and cause ambassador, between hawker and humanitarian.  A clear example of this is Demi Moore’s partnership in 2011 with a jewellery retailer to sell diamond handcuff pendants, with some of the profits going to support the anti-[sex work] foundation established by Moore and her husband at the time, Ashton Kutcher…the presence of movie and television stars at the forefront of awareness campaigns can fuel the expectation that real trafficking victims are just like those we see on television or the big screen…sex slavery…is a popular storyline in entertainment mediaTaken…was a smash hit…spawning two sequels and a television show…Stories of sex trafficking have featured in other movies like The Whistleblower and Trade, and numerous television shows including Criminal Minds, CSIHawaii Five-O, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NCIS: Los Angeles, Without a Trace, and The Wire.  The broad reach of movies and TV means that we are more likely to hear about human trafficking in a fictional context…The lines between entertainment, infotainment and information become blurred, especially when we are told…stories of trafficking by the very people who might play the heroes on screen...

Saving Them From Themselves

Dr. David Ley can always be counted on to speak good sense:

…prosecution of teen sexting suffers from the same disparities as much of our legal system: teens who are Black [or LGBT] may be more likely to face prosecution…Males are more frequently charged than females, even in cases involving mutual sharing of pictures…it is mostly the US that is having this teen sexting panic.  Countries in which social nudity is common and accepted don’t seem to be reacting quite as punitively to these phenomena…Amy Hasinoff, author of Sexting Panic, argues strongly that…child pornography laws need to be updated to be more consistent with age of sexual consent laws:  If you can have sex at age 15 or 16, then you should be able to take or share a naked or sexual image (of yourself) as well.  But she also says that we need to take a better educational approach with teens, teaching them about healthy sexuality and relationships and giving them support and guidance on how to sext safely, not trying to stop them sexting altogether.  In other words, we need to start practicing harm reduction strategies…

Gorged With Meaning

Cracked has fewer pro-sex work articles than it once did, but this one’s excellent:

…”Being alone with a man is being alone with a man,” says Fancy, “and they don’t see a difference between a sugar baby and an escort.  In fact, because it’s the first area of sex work many people start with, the risk is higher because the expectation of screening isn’t really there”…Despite sugar sites’ insistence that “entering the sugar bowl” is all about forming lasting romantic bonds of convenience, the turnover rate for arrangements is high — about two months on average, in Fancy’s experience…Both of our sources recently made the decision to quit sugar dating.  Julia got a promotion at her day job, while Fancy decided that the profit wasn’t worth it compared to traditional escorting and stripping.  “I found the men on the sugaring sites to largely be cheapskates who want to trick young women who are too scared to escort into providing escort services for a fraction of the cost,” she says. “It’s very manipulative, financially”…higher-end escorts tend to charge at least $2,000 for overnight stays.  In her experience, that amount is at the upper end of the monthly  allowances sugar daddies offer — and for escorts, those overnight stays don’t require the devotion, time, and attention that often accompany a sugar arrangement…”I was taking $300-$600 for overnight (sugar) stays!  All just so I could call myself something other than a whore”…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

A…Lethbridge [Alberta] school teacher…Dwayne Schnell…pleaded guilty to charges of making and distributing child pornography…Schnell abused his position of trust by taking pictures of eight students…without their knowledge…a psychiatrist said…Schnell has no concept of the harm caused to the children, parents, or the school where he worked….[and] assertions that he suffers from impulse control and addiction issues were “self-deceptive excuses to justify his behaviour”…Schnell…[claims] he has a pornography addiction…

Uncommon Sense (#545)

How countries with healthy ideas about sex react to the Swedish disease:

A campaign to make prostitution illegal in Switzerland is being met with stiff resistance from human rights group.  The Swiss Aids Federation [and] Amnesty International…are among several advocacy groups rallying against the…[crusade, which] was launched by the Women’s Centre in Zurich…and calls for a Swedish-style ban on prostitution…Anja Derungs, spokesperson for the Zurich Equality Office said that “sex work is like any other kind of work and should be treated as such”…Daniel Seiler…of the Swiss AIDS Federation, said that sex work “is the oldest profession in the world” and would not disappear if a ban was in place.  This approach had not worked it Sweden either, where the trade still exists, he noted…The Women’s Centre in Bern also expressed its opposition to the campaign launched by its counterpart in Zurich…

Social Autoimmune Disorder (#594)

Shaming clients is an exercise in evil fuckery that just won’t die:

The Catalan town of Gavà wants to stamp out [sex workers]…and snitch on those who [enable sex workers to pay their bills and support their children]…by sending fines to their family addresses…”Up until now, the client used to pay the fine (to police) in cash right there and then so that there was no record of the offence”…[anti-sex] Minister Gemma Badia is quoted as saying…As a result, authorities have decided [cops]…should send the fines to clients’ home addresses…Even if the clients were to insist on paying before the fine was posted, they would still receive a letter informing them, and quite possibly their family members, on the settlement of their prostitution case…

The Monsters Are Due (#742) 

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

A 92-year-old man…was thrown to the ground [and] stomped on by strangers on the Fourth of July…in…Los Angeles…Rodolfo Rodriguez [is] a native of Mexico and legal U.S. resident…Laquisha Jones, 30, was arrested…[and] booked for assault with a deadly weapon…Rodriguez had gone out alone for his daily walk, [the victim’s grandson, Erik] Mendoza said…While walking, Rodriguez may have bumped into a small girl, witness Misbel Borjas…said…she [then] saw a woman with the girl push Rodriguez and beat him with a brick.  The woman also told Rodriguez to “go back to your country”…Borjas had been driving by, she said, and wanted to stop, but the woman threatened to hit her car with the brick.  Borjas instead called 911 and took a picture of the woman, which she shared with police and put on social media.  Borjas said a group of men then came down the street, and the woman accused Rodriguez of trying to take the child.  That’s when about three of them also began beating him…Rodriguez…suffered two broken ribs and a broken cheekbone…

Cops and Robbers (#823)

No fad spreads faster than a new way to tyrannize innocent people:

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco announced new initiatives to [harass]…sex [workers]…Deputies will utilize intercept bots to track people who use the Internet to search out [adult consensual sex]…The bots will communicate like a [very stupid and robotic] person, exchanging information such as phone numbers and could even set up meeting locations.  [Pigs]…will [creep] in to lock up the buyer and then go after the person in court…

Guys, it’s extremely easy for men to know which ads are real and which are pig swill: women in real ads will have an established online presence.  Just Google the name, email address, phone number, etc; if there are no other hits on an escort site, other ad sites, Twitter, etc, you’re probably looking at a pig trap.

The War Goes On (#831) 

We told you so:

…promoting prostitution…cases, according to [spokespig] John Daggy [of Indianapolis]…have…dried up…[since] the feds closed police’s [easiest site for stings]…Backpage…“We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down,” Daggy said…

The melodramatic telling of the arrest of a wannabe “pimp” is especially hilarious.  NB: Every time his name comes up, I remind readers that one of Daggy’s jobs is to make excuses for cops who rape sex workers.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#849) 

It’s fascinating in a train-wreck kind of way to watch the lies spiral out of control:

Fulton County Police Chief Darryl Halbert said 100,000 children become sex trafficking victims in Georgia per year and are mostly runaways between the ages of 12 and 14.  He said the county police department uses surveillance cameras and sting operations to [pretend they’re fighting] the [imaginary] crime…

Yes, that’s a pig oinking that almost 5% of the entire below-18 population of Georgia (something like 30% of the age group mentioned) become “sex slaves” every year.  Even allowing for half “escaping”, that would mean roughly half of the population of Georgia under the age of 30 are now “sex slaves”.  One wonders where they’re all stored, and where the clients to support this massive population all come from.

Welcome To Our World (#853)

Locking pregnant women in cages for “trafficking” themselves.  Had enough yet?

Phnom Penh Municipal Court…charged 33 women with human trafficking after they were detained following a raid on a surrogacy business…last month…[being pregnant in a way politicians don’t like] is illegal and could carry a jail sentence of up to 20 years…Chou Bun Eng, chair of the National Authority Against Human Trafficking, said…“We cannot tell you the place where the women are [locked in cages] because we want to protect their rights and…keep them safe”…

“Keep them safe” and “protect their rights”.  By locking them in cages for 20 years.  For being pregnant.  Feminism!

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Mike Siegel is a professional astronomer who has been one of my online friends for about six years now; he has helped me analyze bad studies and calculate statistics, given me advice on scientific points in some of my stories, and even been featured here as a fiction writer himself.  I’ve also linked to some of his articles, and right now he has an excellent demolition of FOSTA and the evil mindset which spawned it on the group blog Ordinary Times.  He was kind enough to allow me to publish this excerpt, but you really ought to read the whole thing.

…We are in the midst of War on Sex Work that is largely becoming a replacement for the War on Drugs…A war on sex work would be difficult given that about half of Americans think prostitution should be legal.  And so this war has built on a tissue of falsehoods to claim that it is actually a war on “sex trafficking”.  We are constantly being told — by politicians, by the media and by the entertainment industry — that there is a national crisis of sex trafficking and specifically a crisis of child sex trafficking.  But the evidence to support this claim, when you dig into it even a little bit, turns out to be a ziggurat of garbled statistics, junk social science and outright lies.  My friend Maggie McNeill has devoted an entire page to debunking claims that are so common and oft-repeated, they are taken as gospel: that the average age at which a woman enters sex work is 13 (it’s mid-20’s); that there are 300,000 child sex slaves in the US (there are at most a few hundred), that sex trafficking and consensual sex work are inextricably linked (they aren’t); that the Super Bowl or other big events are magnets for sex traffickers (not at all).  It goes without saying that forced sexual servitude is an abomination…but if that’s what you’re concerned about, it seems like a good first step would be to decriminalize sex work for adults, as organizations like Amnesty International have advocated.  Doing so would free up law enforcement resources to work the real problem rather than being devoted entirely to routine prostitution busts.

Let’s illustrate that with one example: about every year, the federal government runs a program called Operation Cross Country — a vast multi-agency operation to crack down on “sex trafficking”, at the end of which they will claim to have rescued something on the order a hundred underage sex slaves (which alone should tell us that we do not have anywhere close to 300,000 of them).  Elizabeth Nolan Brown has done amazing work sifting through the propaganda and found that these operations typically arrest over a thousand consenting adults.  Mixed in with those adults are usually a few dozen to a hundred underage sex workers, but most of these are doing it not because of enslavement but because they have run away or been thrown out of their homes).  The operations also arrest a couple of hundred “pimps” but these are often people whose pimping consists of driving their girlfriend to an incall or processing credit card payments…

…I have seen how the case for prohibition is supported by lies…[which is] what has drawn me into this debate so keenly.  It offends me as a scientist…FOSTA was ostensibly proposed to allow the federal government to crack down on online sex trafficking.  This promise was predicated, like most of the War on Sex Work, on dubious stats.  Sex workers vehemently opposed it but their voices were drowned out by supporters misrepresenting the law and celebrities making bizarre claims like ordering a sex slave was as easy as ordering a pizza…Sex Worker rights advocates, digital freedom advocates and libertarians made dire predictions about what was going to happen…So what has happened over the last three months?  Exactly what was feared…and as the weeks have rolled on, it has become painfully and immediately obvious that FOSTA has made things far far worse for sex workers…what FOSTA has done…[is] just as bad as the sex worker advocates warned us it would be…

…wars on sin have often engaged in what I call “harm enhancement” (as opposed to “harm reduction”).  During the War on Drugs, we banned the sale of certain chemicals to Colombia that were used to facilitate drug manufacturing; the result was drugs that had carcinogens in them, which politicians hoped would persuade people to stop using them.  A similar controversy erupted over paraquat pot, herbicides sprayed on marijuana that found that their way into people’s lungs.  During prohibition, industrial alcohols were deliberately poisoned in an effort to stop people from drinking them.  And there is little doubt that the War on Sex Work has frequently seen increased danger as a deterrent.  In many states, a woman simply having condoms on her is considered evidence of prostitution.  Sex workers have reported being pulled over by cops and watching them poke holes in condoms.  The closure of MyRedBook and Rentboy and Backpage did little to stop sex work but plenty to prevent sex workers from screening out dangerous clients.  When a movement engages in policy after policy designed to increase the danger, I think it it reasonable to assume that it is deliberate…this even goes beyond sex work, however.  Our political class has long had a hatred for Section 230 of the CDA, which they see as protecting speech they don’t like.  The last year has been filled with attacks on Facebook and other social media for allowing “fake news” to percolate (the effect of which is very unclear).  The effects of this bill go even beyond the impact on sex workers, bad as that has been.  It is the camel’s nose in the tent of undermining Section 230 and turning the internet into a “safe”, controlled, gated, milquetoast community.  And what better way to get the camel’s nose in the tent than through “solving” a vastly exaggerated crisis?…

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Just in case you missed the news, I’ve got an article on how to hire a sex professional 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: 

Despite being a common activity, buying sexual services can be intimidating.  As with all black market transactions, there is an element of risk and uncertainty caused by prohibition.  Maybe you’re considering buying sex but are unsure how to proceed.  Or maybe you’ve done it in the past but are nervous in the current climate of aggressive “end demand” stings and “john shaming”—complete with names and pictures in the news.  Either way, you’ve come to the right place: Hiring an escort is neither difficult nor dangerous as long as one exercises patience, diligence, and good manners.

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