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Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

I have an incurable, fatal disease: my doctors advise me to expect to live another 30-70 months.  I’m not afraid of dying and in examining my life the only thing that really bothers me is the state of my spiritual life.  While I was born and raised Catholic, I left organized religion as my mind matured and my path to access spirituality became intimate times with my lovers.  I haven’t experienced that connection with something greater than ourselves since my wife left me on the mountaintop 10 years ago.  Regular, long sessions with professionals have immeasurably improved and enriched my life but don’t reach that level.  Tantra specialists offer a kind of enhanced FBSM but none seem to seek that connection to the infinite.  Meditation, yoga, chanting, all are relaxing and enjoyable, but just don’t get me to that higher plane.  Small doses of some recreational drugs have been useful in the past, but only in the context of the intimacy that comes with great sex.  It’s my one and only spiritual life and it’s not what it ought to be.   I’m not sure how to fix it, and don’t want to find myself on my deathbed with this deficit.

I’ve been mulling over how to best answer your question, and I don’t mind telling you that I’m not sure I can give you a good answer.  The problem is that spirituality is so damned hard to pin down and define; religions have been trying for at least 5000 years and probably longer, and yet they all disagree on what exactly it is.  Even the words we use to describe the spiritual dimension are maddeningly vague; we speak of “the ineffable”, “the supernatural”, “the unknown”, “the beyond” and the like.  Since you were raised Catholic you may remember what the religious phenomena associated with the life of Jesus are called (in the context of praying the rosary): mysteries.  And that term predates Catholicism; the “mystery religions” were a group of cults that flourished in the time roughly between the Golden Age of Greece and the fall of Rome, a time when the old functions of religion (social control and explanation of natural phenomena) were being replaced by newer institutions (non-religious legal codes and science).  Classical civilization produced societies far more stable than any which had gone before, and the privileged classes were secure enough in their physical existence that they began to have the luxury of asking questions like, “Is this all there is?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

The mystery religions, more mystical outgrowths of traditional pagan religions, promised to answer these questions.  Hinduism grew out of the old Vedic religion and Buddhism grew from Hinduism; in the West, cults arose around the Egyptian Isis, the Anatolian Cybele, the Persian Mithra and many others.  All of these religions had various circles of initiation which the devout had to work to rise through; Christianity’s innovation (which caused it to rapidly supplant all others in Europe) was that there was only one circle, and every convert had access to all the mysteries right away.  We all know them; transsubstantiation, the Trinity, the virgin birth, etc, logical impossibilities that could not be explained rationally and were supposed to be meditated upon in order to obtain salvation.  The fall of Rome plunged Europe back into a precarious state again, and religion once again assumed its old roles until the Age of Reason gave the privileged classes back the freedom of not having to worry about where their next meal was coming from.  The modern industrial age took that a step further, giving virtually everyone in developed nations that freedom to wonder, “What else is there?”, and of course the result has been the return of old mystery religions (such as evangelical Christianity) and the creation of new ones (such as Mormonism and Scientology), each with its mysteries, circles of initiation, transcendent experiences (such as speaking in tongues), etc.  They all promise to answer The Question, and of course none of them do; oh, they provide the devout with explanations sufficient for many of their adherents, but if any of them could really provide a better answer to the ultimate question than “forty-two”, everyone in the world would’ve converted to that religion long ago and the Millennium would’ve arrived.

By now you may be beginning to get the idea that I don’t actually have an answer to your question, and on one level you’d be right; the truth, however, is that no priest, yogi, guru, prophet or adept in the world does either.  And the reason they don’t is that there is no one answer; the point of The Great Question is not to be answered, but to be asked in the first place.  In other words, the seeking of truth is the point in itself; it’s a limit approaching infinity, but as you and I both know any point along that journey is equally far from its infinitely-distant end.  The observable universe is an infinitesimal particle of all that there is; it’s elephants all the way down and all the way up, and all the way in every direction you can conceive of and an infinity of directions that you can’t, except for “elephants” read “math”.  It is, by definition, utterly incomprehensible to finite beings such as ourselves; the only meaning in existence is the meaning we as conscious beings give it.  So, while sex, drugs, religion, music and other temporal lobe phenomena may give one a sense or feeling of connection to the Divine, the truth is that we’re always connected; we’re just not always aware of it, because if we were we’d be unable to carry out the functions of mundane existence, and would instead merely lie physically inert while contemplating higher dimensions.

I said at the beginning of the previous paragraph that the point of the question is the process of answering it, and that’s not just inscrutable bullshit intended to cover the fact that I have no idea what I’m talking about; I meant it exactly as stated.  Imagine yourself a passenger in a vehicle, travelling a road or railway around a majestic mountain; as the vehicle moves, you need to change your position within it to keep looking at the mountain.  And life is like that, too.  In your youth, sex provided the proper angle to see the mountain, but now it no longer does; you’re still looking out of the same window, and though you’ve tried others none of them have yet given you that which you seek.  Perhaps the answer is larger doses of recreational drugs, or trying others you haven’t yet tried; perhaps you should try doing so in a ritualized setting, like a peyote or ayahuasca journey.  I myself have achieved remarkable results with edible cannabis, listening to instrumental music.  Perhaps you might try visiting sacred places, or exploring your own psychosexual landscape through kink, painting or writing.  And here’s the good news:  you can’t get this wrong.  You needn’t worry about a deficit; I can’t promise you won’t feel a sense of disappointment or regret on your deathbed, because we all leave this world in the same way we enter it: in blood and pain, wholly ignorant of what comes next.  But I can assure you that on a spiritual level, no one seeking as earnestly as you are can be considered to have any kind of spiritual deficit.  The point of the question is to be asked, and you’re certainly asking.  The point of the journey is the journey itself.  And when the end of your biological life comes, and you move on to a different plane of existence, you will be able to do so knowing that you succeeded with flying colors in your mission on this one: to never cease asking questions and searching diligently for an ultimate answer neither you nor I nor any other sentient being can ever find.

(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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Removing all references to sex trafficking will hurt our ability to grab reporters’ attention.  –  Sydney Asbury of “Demand Abolition”

The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn 

It’s been a long time since I’ve used this heading, but an even longer time since we’ve seen anything like this:

…lifelong civil rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide…to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia…and…He’s doing something I’ve never quite seen before in present-day politics…keeping his word…In his first week on the job, he fired 31 prosecutors…because they weren’t committed to the changes he intended to make…Next, Krasner…release[d] a list of 29 [bad cops]…that…had lied…filed false reports, used excessive force, driven drunk, and burgled…but nothing is as essential and revolutionary as the internal five-page guiding document of new policies that Krasner sent to his staff…The first sentence says it all:  “These policies are an effort to end mass incarcerations and bring balance back to sentencing”…Krasner immediately instructs prosecutors to stop prosecuting marijuana possession regardless of the weight…[and] to stop charging …with any paraphernalia crimes…to stop charging sex workers that have fewer than three convictions with any crime and drop all current cases against sex workers who also fit that description.  All sex workers with three or more convictions are to be referred to Dawn Court…a…diversion…program created in 2010…Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop the wide-ranging practice of beginning plea deals with the highest possible sentencing and instead, begin those plea deals at the bottom end of the available range…Krasner instructed his prosecutors to now add up and justify the exact costs of every single person sentenced to a crime in Philadelphia…Stating that it costs between $42,000 and $60,000 per year to incarcerate a person, he reminded the prosecutors that the…annual cost of incarceration…is…more per year than the beginning salary of teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers, addiction counselors, and even prosecutors in his office…

Pyrrhic Victory

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

In at least four investigations last year…Raleigh [North Carolina] police used search warrants to demand Google accounts not of specific suspects, but from any mobile devices that veered too close to the scene of a crime…These warrants often prevent the technology giant for months from disclosing information about the searches not just to potential suspects, but to any users swept up in the search…[“authorities” pretend] the practice is a natural evolution of criminal investigative techniques.  They [lie] that, by seeking search warrants, they’re carefully balancing civil rights with public safety [because most of the public is too stupid to know about the horrible “third-party doctrine”].  Defense attorneys and privacy advocates…are…[concerned about] how law enforcement turns to Google’s massive cache of user data, especially without a clear target in mind.  And they’re concerned about the potential to snag innocent users, many of whom might not know just how closely the company tracks their every move…

Under Duress 

The New York Times finally discovers what marginalized people have always known:

An investigation by The New York Times has found that on more than 25 occasions since January 2015, judges or prosecutors determined that a key aspect of a New York City [cop’s] testimony was…untrue…[they lie] about the whereabouts of guns…They…barge…into apartments and conduct…searches, only to testify otherwise later… they…give…firsthand accounts of crimes or arrests that they did not in fact witness…No detail, seemingly, is too minor to embellish…In many instances, the motive for lying was…to skirt constitutional restrictions against unreasonable searches and stops.  In other cases, the falsehoods appear aimed at convicting people…with trumped-up evidence…

Bogeymen

Read this ludicrous exercise in pearl-clutching, then the item under the same heading two items down:

…illicit prostitution businesses are thriving in a surprising place: the legitimate corporate world.  And, we’ve found that the inequities of that world…contribute to that sex trade…we interviewed 44 pimps…in Chicago…fewer than half…fit the pop culture stereotype of a pimp.  The other half did not: a full third had four-year college degrees, primarily in business administration…and most…were white.  In addition to their pimping work, nearly half worked in legitimate companies, not in massage parlors or erotica businesses…these illegal businesses grew directly from the misogynistic culture of the legitimate ones that housed them.  Some became pimps after learning of demand for paid sex through informal bantering about sexual conquests over lunch or beers with the bros.  Half of the pimps started out as customers of sex workers, and several arranged “entertainment” for business clients as part of their job…

Huffington Post needs to exercise more diligence on its contributors; these two fantasists [44 interviews of self-proclaimed “pimps” in one city is not anything like a representative sample] have been recycling this same bogeyman tale on the strength of their supposed academic credentials for years.

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere! (#314)

The only sex workers exploited in New Zealand are those who were intentionally excluded from decriminalization in order to appease prohibitionists:

Migrant prostitutes working illegally on temporary visas are “terrified” they will be deported if they report exploitative pimps and abusive clients…In the past year, 136 migrants suspected of coming here to carry out sex work were denied entry into New Zealand…Sex work is the only occupation migrants on temporary visas are not legally allowed to take up…However, migrants who have entered the country on temporary work, visitor, holiday or international student visas and work as prostitutes are being forced to carry out sexual acts without protection and often work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week…They would not speak to police because they would be deported…

Bogeymen (#317)

I’m glad to see Bruckert has expanded her study into a book:

“The sex industry, like mainstream businesses, rarely depends exclusively on clients and workers to operate efficiently and safely,” professor Chris Bruckert [said]…”Contrary to prevailing stereotypes that portray third parties [like pimps] as inherently abusive and controlling, these workers fulfill important roles and provide vital services.”  Bruckert and her team of researchers conducted interviews with 75 pimps — or “third-party” workers, as she prefers to call them — as well as 52 sex workers for her new book Getting Past ‘the Pimp’: Management in the Sex Industry…Bruckert said little research has been conducted on the role of pimps in the industry, adding that many people’s opinions are based on stereotypes…Most of the third-party workers Bruckert’s team spoke to were women — both surprising and understandable, she said, since the industry is female-dominated and the line between sex work and management is thin…

Torture Chamber

The PREA is just feel-good nonsense as long as screws have absolute power over their victims:

…the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)…frequently fails to either address or eliminate sexual abuse.  In jails and prisons across the country, incarcerated people are subject to sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff.  If they report these assaults, they risk retaliation, including greater violence…”Prisons are the worst distillation of toxic masculinity,” said Alan Mills [of the Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC)]…”It’s all about inflicting punishment on people.  It’s about the use of force in order to force compliance to an arbitrary set of rules.  It’s about dehumanizing people.  It’s not surprising that this translates to harassment and abuse”…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex workers in South Africa will be arrested at least four times and will spend an average of 40 hours in custody if they are charged…one third of sex worker arrests never make it to a police station or courthouse‚ instead often ending in sex workers being abused by police or forced to pay bribes.  These were just some of the findings of The Policing of Sex Work In South Africa survey compiled by NGO’s Sonke Gender Justice and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)…Advocacy officer at Sonke Donna Evans said that the most shocking thing to emerge from the report was the extreme levels of violence at the hands of police that were reported by sex workers.  “They were extremely disturbing and included incidents of torture‚ assault‚ rape and even permanent disability‚” Evans said…

Original Sin (#762) 

I guess this makes sense coming from a man who imagines condoms to be weapons of mass destruction:

Pope Francis asked forgiveness…for all Christians who buy sex from women, saying men who frequent prostitutes are criminals with a “sick mentality” who think that women exist to be exploited.  “This isn’t making love.  This is torturing a woman.  Let’s not confuse the terms,” Francis insisted…

The Puritan Recrudescence (#795)

At least Wyoming had the sense to vote this nonsense down:

A Wyoming bill that would have recognized porn as a “public health crisis” failed in the 2018 session of the state Legislature…HJ1 was typical of various “public health crisis” bills that have made their way across the nation.  Wyoming’s bill, introduced by…Lars O. Lone, would have made official language stating porn increases the demand for sex trafficking, impacts brain development and functioning, diminishes the interest of young men in getting married and creates infidelity, among other [evidence-free] statements.  Another porn bill…sponsored by Lone, failed to win support, as well.  HB 127 would have ordered the installation of porn blocking software on all computers sold in the state to prevent the viewing of “obscene” material as defined by the state Attorney General’s office…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#811) 

SAVE THE TOASTERS!!!!

French activists are campaigning to shut down a new “sex doll brothel” on the grounds that it degrades women—and silicone.  Or something…Xdolls is registered as a gaming center, which makes sense if you consider doll-sex a form of escapist make-believe or wish-fullfilment akin to playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  But Paris Council communists and other activists argue that Xdolls amounts to a brothel, which are illegal in France.  Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, head of the Paris council’s communist group…compared the business to “prostitution” and the owner to “a pimp.”  Sounds like someone just started watching Westworld.  The rhetoric only gets more extreme from there.  Lorraine Questiaux, spokesperson for the anti-sex work organization Mouvement du Nid…[said] “It’s a place…where you rape a woman”…You can’t rape a non-sentient silicone doll any more than you can rape a vibrator or a Fleshlight…but apparently not even lifeless dolls are immune to…rescue attempts…

I’m so glad Tracy Clark-Flory is writing again; I’ve missed her good sense.

Disaster

The fallout will continue until there’s some legal action against this horrific law:

…SESTA’s passage by the U.S. Senate has had an immediate chilling effect on those working in the adult industry…stories of a fallout are being heard, with adult performers finding their content being flagged and blocked…escort site [Cityvibe]…suddenly becoming “not available,” Craigslist shutting down its “personals” sections and Reddit closing down some of its communities, among other tales.  SESTA…targets scores of adult sites that consensual sex workers use to advertise their work.  And now, before SESTA reaches President Trump’s desk for his guaranteed signature, those sites are scrambling to prevent themselves from being charged under sex trafficking laws.  “It’s not surprising that we’re seeing an immediate chilling effect on protected speech,” industry attorney Lawrence Walters [said]…”This was predicted as the likely impact of the bill, as online intermediaries over-censor content in the attempt to mitigate their own risks.  The damage to the First Amendment appears palpable”…

Too Close To Home (#823)

It’s great to see a spotlight on this ugly scheme to sell human lives to a sociopathic billionaire:

There is no mention in [propaganda about Seattle’s high-profile sex work stings] of the fact that [prosecutor Val] Richey’s work was handsomely supported by Demand Abolition, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to end demand for sex work by going after buyers, or that the cost of some of his travels around the country has been defrayed by the same group.  Nor is there any mention of the fact that Demand Abolition, in exchange for providing approximately $191,667 in funding to the King County prosecutor’s office over four years, asked Seattle-area law enforcement to carry out regular arrests and prosecutions of buyers…As part of signed agreements for the funding, Richey and other law enforcement officials in King County were required to frame the activities of sex buyers and men involved with The Review Board as sex trafficking…even though there was no evidence of trafficking…and…none of the men arrested…were charged with trafficking — only with promoting prostitution…

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

The Punitive Mindset 

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

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

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

Elephant in the Parlor 

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

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

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

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

Standard Operating Procedure

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

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

The Notorious Badge (#513) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

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

The Puritan Recrudescence

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

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

The End of the Beginning (#703)

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

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

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

Stalkers in Blue 

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

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

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

Pyrrhic Victory (#805)

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

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

To Molest and Rape (#806) 

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

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

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

It’s good to see that somebody gets it:

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

Checklist (#812) 

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

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

Whither Canada? (#813)

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

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

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I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently.  –  Archbishop Terrence Prendergast

Longtime readers will appreciate this video…what if one of my favorite musicians did a version of the theme music of one of my favorite shows?  The links above it are from Tim Cushing (“does”), Clarissa (“pro”), Tushy Galore (“headline” and “never”), Walter Olson (“books”), and Brooke Magnanti (“tender”).

From the Archives

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In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.  –  Allan Gatt

Rooted in Racism 

Sometimes “trafficking” just means “bringing in brown people“:

Defend Europe, an anti-immigrant group that attempts to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, recently chartered a boat that was stopped in a Cyprus port, where several members were arrested for forging documents and engaging in potential human trafficking…members were stopped in and deported from a sea port in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus…after spending two days in detention for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals who were aboard the C-Star, the campaign’s ship…Refugee Rights Association advocate Faika Pasha…[said] some of the Sri Lankans on board reported having paid a trafficker to be taken to Italy and confirmed that five Sri Lankans remained in Cyprus to claim asylum…

Change a Few Words

This hasn’t any more chance of passing than that sex work decrim bill in New Hampshire, but it’s a sign of how much things are shifting:

Senator Cory Booker…introduced legislation that ends federal marijuana prohibition…The Marijuana Justice Act would…Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act…Cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses…Prevent deportations of individuals for marijuana offenses…Provide for a process of expungement [and resentencing] for marijuana offenses at the federal level…

Shift in the Wind

Pro-decriminalization essays in newspapers are no longer a rarity:

…this Swedish model strips women of agency and autonomy and regards men as morally superior to women because they remain culpable for their decisions, whereas women are not…People who cry crocodile tears over prostitution and claim that it demeans sex workers seem to ignore the countless office workers, electricians, plumbers, janitors and garbage collectors who…work…out of sheer necessity to provide for their families. How is their job any less demeaning than sex work and, more pertinently, why is sex work demeaning in the first place?…the people making these accusations are ashamed of their own bodily functions…Pathology is not determined by what some find offensive…sex workers are the only women who are honest about female sexuality and about the real standing relationship between men and women at any time in history…

Lower Education

Funny how the mantra of “Believe women!” goes out the window when a woman says something contrary to feminist dogma:

…Zoe Katz, the captain of USC’s women’s tennis team, is accusing the university of not only ignoring her protestations that her boyfriend Matt Boermeester didn’t assault her, but threatening her for speaking up.  Boermeester, a redshirt junior kicker, was suspended from USC in February after a neighbor [claimed to have seen] the football player…assault Katz a month earlier.  That claim was repeated to a coach and then to the university Title IX office…The following “six-month”…inquiry took the form of “repeated interrogations” plagued by “agendas, intimidation and falsehoods,” Katz wrote in a two-page statement…The allegations closely resemble those made in a lawsuit against Colorado State University–Pueblo by athlete Grant Neal, who was found responsible for rape after his girlfriend, an athletics staffer, said their sex was consensual…

All Wet

When a “study” claims only an impossibly-tiny fraction of men pay for sex, you can safely dismiss it as pure garbage:

…University of Minnesota researchers for the first time have studied the demand for commercial sex in Minnesota and who the typical client is.  A 121-page report…uses a national study to estimate that 26,000 Minnesota men — 1 percent of the state’s men — may have purchased sex in the past year, while 380,000 men — 14 percent — have done so at least once…Researchers, who combed through court records and media reports and interviewed more than 150 experts statewide, found that most sex buyers in Minnesota seek quick and anonymous sex with young-looking girls or women…

Yes, these idiots are claiming that the average sex worker subsists on three clients per year (and that’s not even counting all the “trafficked children”).  But then, what can one expect from a “study” that doesn’t bother to interview the people being studied, but instead just records the wanking fantasies of cops & other prohibitionists?

Signs

COSWAC mocks the absurdity of “signs of sex trafficking” in hotels:

…according to a checklist provided to hotel employees by the Department of Homeland Security, I displayed at least three “general indicators” of human trafficking…Few or no personal items when checking in…The same person reserving multiple rooms…“Do Not Disturb” sign used constantly.  Oh, and the fellow activist who paid for my hotel room?  They hosted get-togethers in their suite throughout the weekend…another red flag: “Constant flow of men into a room at all hours”…several…are so vague or subjective that…[they] could lead to invasions of privacy and false accusations…

Original Sin (#713) 

The Pope continues to recklessly promote “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Human trafficking is “brutal, savage and criminal,” Pope Francis said…“I want to call everyone to make a commitment to seeing that this perverse plague, a modern form of slavery, is effectively countered”…After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis asked them to join him in praying a “Hail Mary” so that Jesus’ mother would “support the victims of trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers”…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#722)

As the hysteria collapses, you’re going to see this happening much more often:

Cambodia’s premier Hun Sen…ordered a Christian [rescue industry group]…to be shut down, after it featured in a recent CNN report that…featured three girls who were [supposedly] rescued from the sex trade by Agape International Missions (AIM)…American pastor Don Brewster [has repeatedly refused to accept studies that show only a small number of Cambodian sex workers are now minors, and] was quoted [to that effect on CNN]…Hun Sen and [others pointed out that]…an early version of CNN’s online report…described the girls as Cambodian, when in fact they either spoke Vietnamese or Khmer with a thick Vietnamese accent.  CNN later removed the word Cambodian from their headline…

The Mote and the Beam (#728)

The censors who want the internet destroyed are at it again:

…the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017…would amend the Communications Decency Act in order to hold websites liable for “publishing information designed to facilitate sex trafficking.”  It was introduced…by Sen. Rob Portman…and…sponsored by a bipartisan group of 19 senators…The Internet Association, which represents Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, said…that the act would unfairly make companies responsible for what third parties publish on their sites…Sen. Ron Wyden…[said] “Section 230…is…the legal basis for all of social media and it has been vital to the expansion of affordable internet access throughout the country…This proposal takes a wrecking ball to that foundation without so much as a committee hearing.  It is yet another example of the technical ignorance of Congress threatening the jobs, lives and economic opportunities of millions of Americans.”

Total Eclipse of the Brain 

I have a strong feeling that this will be the nadir of the “gypsy whore” myth:

Cheyenne police say the solar eclipse passing over Wyoming on August 21 could be a hotbed for sex trafficking…Sgt. Tim Meyrick [fantasized that] “In this region, a pimp will make approximately $1,000/day per girl”…[while] Kevin Malatesta [masturbated while drooling] “…prostitution…has a much darker side to it”…

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Every year on her feast day, I honor St. Mary Magdalene; even though the Church does not officially recognize her as the patron of whores, she certainly is in the public imagination.  And if beliefs have power, that recognition of sacred whoredom in the minds of millions has far more metaphysical and philosophical weight than any official Church designation.

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Shouldn’t we help [sex workers] instead of further marginalising them?  –  Christina Cannon

The Red Umbrella 

Because NHI is so feminist:

Last week, we were treated to the release of the trailer for Rough Night, a female-led buddy comedy that sees Scarlett Johannson, Kate McKinnon, Illana Glazer, Zoe Kravitz, and Jillian Bell team up for a wild bachelorette weekend.  The girls drink, go dancing, take photos with selfie sticks, and hire a stripper.  Yay!  And then they accidentally kill him.  Not yay.  And then, for reasons as-yet-unknown to the audience, they arrange his dead body in a sex swing before hanging him out of the sunroof of a Jeep, driving him shirtless through a busy street, and – I can’t believe I’m about to write what I’m about to write – making jokes about his corpse’s erection.  Decidedly not yay…

Elephant in the Parlor 

Politicians hiring male sex workers isn’t much less common than their hiring female ones:

[Oklahoma] State Senator Ralph Shortey…was discovered at a Super 8 in Moore…with an unidentified boy under the age of 18…police have recommended the politician be charged with soliciting a minor for prostitution, prostitution within 1000 feet of a church and transporting someone for prostitution.  The exact age of the boy involved is unclear. Police have said that he is a juvenile, though the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

Given that dancers win every one of these suits, the old strip club business model is a dead duck:

Attorneys in Denver have filed a national lawsuit against a chain of strip clubs.  The class action suit accuses PT’s Show Club, PT’s All Nude, Diamond Cabaret, La Boheme and The Penthouse Club of exploiting their exotic dancers.  The…suit…involves hundreds of dancers in 20 strip clubs across eight states…Mari Newman, the attorney who filed the suit, said that the company’s lack of fair compensation for the dancers’ work is illegal…

Watershed

Even in Ireland, the truth is dawning on many feminists:

Gillian Wylie…and Eilis Ward…state that they are “weary” after several years of fighting the perceived definition of sex work in Ireland…“We did a piece of research…on the…extent of trafficking for sexual exploitation of women into Ireland”, explains Wylie….the number of people being trafficked in Ireland was being quoted as being in the hundreds.  Wylie and Ward’s “rigorous piece of research” came up with a figure of 76…For both women, a critical turning point in their opinions on sex work came from talking to people involved in the industry.  When met with a roomful of sex workers, Ward listened as they explained that they “didn’t consider themselves to be victims of violence”…and this limiting definition “didn’t capture the reality of their work”…

Not To Be Taken Internally (#325)

Ladies, please don’t let people who aren’t doctors inject who-knows-what into your butts:

On the internet, she goes by the name Vanessa Luna, starring in porn videos that highlight her ample rear end…she used her real name, Ruth Planas, to…operat[e]…an unlicensed clinic in a West Miami-Dade strip mall…Cuerpos Health and Aestheticwas shuttered after…Suyima Torres, died following a botched butt lift performed there.  Prosecutors have charged Jose Robusto, a purported medical doctor in Venezuela, who they believe injected Torres with illegal and dangerous liquid silicone at the facility.  But nearly a year after his arrest, authorities have been unable to build a case against clinic owner Planas, who claimed no injections were ever done at the business.  Planas insisted she only used the clinic to sell cosmetic products, pitch Herbalife nutritional supplements and, a couple times a week, perform on live X-rated web videos…witnesses say that Planas arranged and helped carry out illegal cosmetic surgeries there…Robusto…is awaiting trial for manslaughter, one of many high-profile cases involving botched cosmetic surgeries in South Florida — a hub for sham doctors who offer cheap cosmetic procedures performed in homes, warehouses and pseudo clinics.  Just last week, a Miami man was arrested after police said he gave butt injections to a woman who wound up in the hospital because of the procedure…

If Men Were Angels

Is anyone actually still surprised when this happens?

Ottawa police have laid four new charges against a retired Catholic priest in connection with alleged sexual assaults at two local churches in the 1960s.  Rev. Barry McGrory, 82, has been charged with two counts of indecent assault on a male, and two counts of gross indecency…McGrory was first arrested in November in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy in the 1960s…the Archdiocese of Ottawa…settled out of court with two women who said they were abused as adolescents by McGrory in the 1970s…One of the victims was paid $300,000 in one of the largest settlements of its kind in the history of the Ottawa diocese.  In an interview last year, McGrory said he was a sex addict…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong (#546)

Prohibitionist Scottish politicians exhume the rotting corpse of the “Scottish model” (ie the Swedish model) yet again:

…SNP members [backed] a motion for a Scottish model for [oppressing sex workers]…MSP Ash Denham proposed the motion, based…on the Nordic model of [prohibition]…Denham [drooled]…that “a girl who enters prostitution at 14 will service the sexual demands of more than 4000 men before she’s old enough to drive a car”…Christina Cannon, who is standing to be an SNP councillor…argued against the model, and told delegates to be mindful of the motion in front them…Women in the trade, she argued, were opposed to the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, pointing delegates to a consultation held when Labour’s Rhoda Grant put forward a similar proposal in 2012…

Property of the State (#561) 

Still another abomination from Alabama:

…new moms in Alabama…[are subjected to] hospital drug tests [without their permission] after birth and [the results are] passed along to police.  Dozens of women have been charged with felony chemical endangerment of a child since 2006 for using marijuana during pregnancy…Although Alabama isn’t the only state with laws against drug use during pregnancy, its prosecutors have been the most zealous – bringing charges against hundreds of women, even those with low levels of THC and no criminal history.  State lawmakers [recklessly passed] the chemical endangerment law in 2006 [supposedly] to protect children from exposure to chemicals and fumes from home-based meth-labs…[but] prosecutors immediately began applying it to women who used drugs during pregnancy, a practice that increased after being upheld by the Alabama State Supreme Court in 2013…

Bell, Hook and Kettle (#615)

There’s a word for collaboration between government and private corporations; it’s “fascism”:

…Philadelphia’s Special Victim’s Unit…[has] joined forces with Federal Homeland Security investigations, the FBI, the Salvation Army, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the District Attorney on a new task force charged with cracking down on sex trafficking, thanks to a $1.3 million federal grant…Investigators…[pretend to] work hard to get young women out of the sex trade and on a better path in life.  The Salvation Army plays a vital role in helping women break the vicious cycle of sex trafficking…

Is that anything like “the dangerous cycle of prostitution“?

To Molest and Rape

“Errors”.  You know, like turning a blind eye to cops raping teens:

Louisville’s mayor announced that he has asked the FBI to investigate…the…sexual abuse of children in the police department’s Youth Explorer program.  Mayor Greg Fischer also said he had hired former U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey to review an investigation conducted by Louisville Metro Police and determine whether “errors were made,” including by police Chief Steve Conrad…A lawsuit…on behalf of a former scout identified as N.C. charges that his alleged rape by Officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood was “concealed” by department officials.  Betts and Wood are accused of sexually assaulting the former scout from 2011 through 2013 and recording the incidents to make porn…

Leaving the Life (#657)

This is a lot better than Vice‘s last article on leaving sex work:

…sex workers are able to…pick up transferable skills that they can use in their future careers.  Few sex workers stay in the industry for their whole working lives, and they leave for diverse reasons—often returning for short or extended stints from time to time…Raven Bowen of the University of York [said]…”If people get pregnant or fall in love, they often leave right away.  Middle-class sex workers might be able to make a plan when they transition out—dabble in some square jobs, then gradually leave.”  Another common motivator is a child approaching their teenage years…Rarest of all are [those]…who…settle down with a client, although Bowen [says] this isn’t unheard of…Many sex workers view the industry as a short-term stepping stone to a…straight…career, and aim to retire from sex work when they’ve amassed enough money to fund tuition or open a small business…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#688) 

This is what robo-fetishists want you to believe will take my job soon:

Sergi Santos…wants to make sure robotic sex dolls…enjoy the sex as much as the humans ― or at least act like they do.  The Barcelona-based engineer has just created a sex doll named “Samantha,” who…responds when the user touches her hands and hips by saying positive statements like “I love this” and “Nice and gentle” in a singsong voice…she is programmed to want romance first, then get comfortable before getting sexual.  “The…final objective of the sexual mode is to give her an orgasm,” said Santos…Santos is now selling Samantha…for around $5,374…

One Born Every Minute (#717) 

I’d be much happier if the money went to Hickey’s victims instead of the State:

Things are not looking good for Matt Hickey.  The former tech journalist, who is currently being held in King County jail on four separate charges of second-degree rape, failed to respond to the Attorney General Office’s lawsuit against his fake porn scam.  As a result…Judge Ken Schubert issue[d] a ruling finding that Hickey did, indeed, scam at least six women by pretending to be a fake female porn recruiter online since 2006; Schubert also ruled that Hickey owes the state $300,000 in penalties that represent 150 violations of state consumer protection laws…[and] must pay $32,201 in court fees…

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