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Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

I got a rock.  –  Charlie Brown

As usual, I don’t find any good Halloween videos until it’s too late to feature them before Halloween.  I’ve actually featured this one before, back in 2012, but at that time it was only available on the Funny or Die site and couldn’t be embedded; thanks to Franklin Harris for bringing this YouTube copy to my attention.  The links above it were provided by Tim CushingPopehatWalter OlsonNun Ya, Tim Cushing again and ACLU.

From the Archives

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It’s time to stop letting zealots…not only destroy the lives of innocent people but hijack police and media focus for their weird authoritarian ends.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Lack of Evidence 

They were “safeguarded”, no doubt at a “safe house”.  How stupid do these pigs think we are?

Police have busted what they believe to be a suspected brothel in Moseley…[they] discovered dozens of condoms and…around £200 in cash in…[a woman’s] purse…Sparkbrook Police tweeted… “SparkbrookWMP have raided a suspected brothel in Moseley today.  Two females have been safeguarded…often you find organised Sex Trafficking behind them”…

This is your regular reminder that massive police operations in the UK have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases.  Plus condoms and pocket change as “evidence” of “sex trafficking”.  What a pathetic, misogynistic wanking fantasy.

Dirty Amateurs

Amateurs are a menace to public health; they should be licensed and heavily regulated:

Rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia have climbed for the fourth consecutive year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced…Last year, nearly 2.3 million US cases of these sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed…That’s the highest number ever reported nationwide, breaking the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases…

Change a Few Words

A good example of why “legalized” sex work is a bad idea:

In November 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use.  But nearly two years later, there are still no stores licensed to sell pot to the public.  One business owner now she faces criminal charges for trying to find a way around the roadblock…Humble Bumble, a since-closed health and wellness store, would overcharge for regular items.  In return, customers were “‘gifted’ specific amounts of a green, leafy substance consistent with marijuana”…Humble Bumble…wasn’t technically selling marijuana to customers, and it seems like the store did its best to comply with local regulations…Under Massachusetts law, it’s not illegal to give away weed for free.  The transfer simply can’t be “advertised or promoted to the public.”  Other companies in the state have been taking advantage of this loophole as well.  But…only Kattar has been prosecuted…

Torture Chamber 

“Correcting” people to death:

Another inmate has died in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, making 12 deaths this month.  Troy Pittman…died at Promise Hospital…The manner and cause of death are pending autopsy but [Coroner David] Ruth [claimed] Pittman likely died of “natural causes”.  Pittman was an inmate at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, making him the fifth inmate death at the facility this month…The ages of the 11 other deceased inmates in August  range from 24 to 78.  Three were housed at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, four were at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, three were at Parchman and one was housed at the privately run Wikinson County Correctional Facility…

Dirty Laundry (#438)

More on child abuse by nuns at US orphanages:

…for all the…[recent] revelations [about abusive Catholic clergy] — including this month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report on how the church hid the crimes of hundreds of priests — a darker history…remains all but unknown.  It is the history of unrelenting physical and psychological abuse of captive children.  Across thousands of miles, across decades, the abuse took eerily similar forms:  People who grew up in orphanages said they were made to kneel or stand for hours, sometimes with their arms straight out, sometimes holding their boots or some other item.  They were forced to eat their own vomit.  They were dangled upside down out windows, over wells, or in laundry chutes.  Children were locked in cabinets, in closets, in attics, sometimes for days, sometimes so long they were forgotten.  They were told their relatives didn’t want them, or they were permanently separated from their siblings.  They were sexually abused. They were mutilated…[some] entered orphanages but did not leave them alive…these deaths…were not natural or even accidents, but were instead the inevitable consequence of the nuns’ brutality…

To Molest and Rape 

Another prosecutor claims he let a serial rapist cop off to “protect” his underage victim:

…Georgia [cop Richard Gooddine]…accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl…has been fired…and is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation…Gooddine detained the girl [on August 19th] for violating curfew…he…drove [her] around for hours and sexually assaulted her at an apartment complex before driving her home…GBI previously investigated Gooddine over a 2011 sexual assault [of]…a minor.  The case wasn’t prosecuted.  Fulton County D.A. [pig mouthpiece claimed]…the office was concerned about traumatizing the victim in that case…

Victimless “crimes” such as curfew violations exist for the sole purpose of giving cops excuses to harass and victimize peaceful people who are harming nobody.

Vendetta (#664)

Liz Brown on this year’s Swanee Hunt psychodrama pogroms:

Last week concluded the latest “National Johns Suppression Initiative”, an appropriately draconian name for a coordinated cross-country targeting of sex workers and their customers…The [ChicagoTribune headline describes it a “national sex trafficking crackdown”.  But let’s do the math from the figures it gives us:  473 people arrested for attempting to pay for sexual activity…6 people arrested for pimping…0 people arrested for sex trafficking…This “national sex trafficking operation” has a zero percent success rate if the goal is, you know, actually catching sex traffickers.  Even counting the six alleged pimps, these arrests make up less than 1.3 percent of the total arrests reported (and that’s without including sex workers arrested in the course of these stings)…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#837) 

If this is a “brothel”, then a room with a foosball table is a “stadium”:

…Aura Dolls is launching what it claims is the first sex doll brothel in North America on Sept. 8…Names, photos and descriptions of the dolls can be found on the company’s website along with rates which range from $80 for one doll for 30 minutes to $960 for two dolls for four hours…the customers will only interact with the dolls when they visit the business, which will have a private entrance at the back and a buzzer system to exit.  “They put their payment down on the counter and they go straight to their room,” [marketing director Claire] Lee said…“We don’t have staff there, just a camera”…The company also encourages the use of lube and condoms and said the dolls will be cleaned after each customer using a three-step routine to get them as clean as possible…

Not for Any Reason Whatsoever

Do I really have to add, “Not because a 30-year-friend touched your butt”?

…”Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for eight years under President Obama, was arrested…and charged with groping a woman in his apartment in October 2017″…Before the vicious attack occurred, the “survivor” was deeply involved in the #metoo movement as an artist creating #metoo art…In April, she wrote an article in an online publication describing her transition from activist to victim, and related the events of that night without naming her abuser.  What was this horrifying act of depravity that cause her to go to the police ten months later to seek criminal charges against this person she’s known for more than 30 years?  He touched her butt…She said Dr. Frieden groped her while their spouses were not looking, and apologized later…It was certainly prescient of Judge Yavinsky to order the surrender of his passport to avoid him fleeing to a tropical island to avoid prosecution, and issue a no contact order, since there was a grave chance that Frieden might stalk her to touch her behind one more time…

What kind of mind files criminal charges against a lifelong friend who got a little handsy?  Especially a YEAR after the incident?  Wouldn’t it have been enough to say, “Whoa, hands off!” and ask for an apology?  Or at most to tell his wife?  What justice is served by feeding non-criminal people into the police state sausage grinder?

Legislators Gone Wild (#862) 

Judge slaps down two out-of-control politicians:

A federal judge ordered Nye County to restore and reinstate Dennis Hof’s brothel and liquor licenses for his Love Ranch South brothel…Judge Richard Boulware ordered a preliminary injunction based on perceived First Amendment retaliation by Nye County Commissioners Dan Schinhofen and Andrew “Butch” Borasky.  Hof has lawsuits against both commissioners for comments and actions they’ve made about him…Boulware banned the pair of commissioners from voting on any action regarding Hof and his brothel licenses while pending litigation goes forward…

Hof is a complete douchebag, but these little power games hurt the sex workers and other employees of the brothel.

Business As Usual (#866)

More on the rapist cop who murdered a sex worker in Columbus, Ohio:

…Andrew Mitchell…has already made 80 prostitution-related arrests in 2018, overwhelmingly of women…he is the subject of an internal affairs investigation, opened before the shooting, and multiple previous complaints…Though [cops gave the victim’s married name, Castleberry, to the media]…she went by Donna Dalton…a…CPD spokesman…[referred to the victim as] a nuisance to the neighborhood…[and her murderer] as a 30-year veteran.  It declined to discuss the dozens of arrests he made for prostitution-related offenses like “soliciting” and “loitering soliciting”…Mitchell faced at least eight complaints since 2006…in two he was found be “outside of policy”…In 2018, there have been 17 incidents involving [Columbus cops] shooting people…Seven of those people died.  Between 2013 and 2017, CPD officers fatally shot 28 people.  Columbus officers are also almost always cleared of wrongdoing…In fact, since Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien was elected in 1996, he has never indicted any [cops] for fatal on-duty shootings…

The article also points out that it was the Columbus police who arrested Stormy Daniels on bogus charges in July.

Full of Themselves (#867)

Remember, choosing a massage professional certified by the California Massage Therapy Council is your only protection against “criminals using massage as a front for sex crimes”:

…Massage Envy is facing a rash of lawsuits by women who say…they were sexually assaulted while getting massages in at least five Florida locations.  The Arizona-based company, which has some 1,200 franchises across the country, was the subject of an investigation by BuzzFeed last November that revealed more than 180 customers said they had been sexually assaulted at the spas…attorneys for the…women claim the company knew of these allegations and took steps to make sure they were never brought to law enforcement…and/or state massage therapy boards…The Palm Beach suit comes on the heels of a lawsuit by five plaintiffs in San Mateo County, California, who accused Massage Envy of negligence, sexual battery, gender violence, false imprisonment, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, after they they were allegedly harassed or sexually assaulted at franchises…Buzzfeed’s original investigation found…[that] women…were groped, digitally penetrated, and raped [by masseurs] all across the country and that the company either ignored or mishandled the complaints…

The Widening Gyre (#867) 

Here’s another entry in the “sex trafficking” scare story invasion of Twitter; as you can see they’re getting stupider and more dangerous all the time.  This one is an attempt to replace wariness of the very real phenomenon of “phishing” (clicking on the link could download spyware or other malware into your device) with panic over an imaginary peril.  105,000 retweets for this idiotic garbage; is it any wonder the US has turned entirely into a police state, with the enthusiastic support of the Great Unwashed?

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Fucking over sex workers is a way [Democrats] can be bipartisan.
– Sean McElwee

Life Imitates Artifice

Prohibitionist tactics remain the same no matter what they’re trying to prohibit:

Members of Congress…held a press conference…to announce a letter signed by 56 GOP lawmakers calling for investigations into a report from discredited anti-choice group Live Action Network accusing Planned Parenthood of covering up child sexual abuse…[this] follows a familiar game plan, including coordination between an anti-choice activist group and Republican lawmakers.  This round of attacks come as the Trump administration looks to reinstate a…restriction blocking federal family planning funds from organizations that provide abortion services in the same location as Title X-funded services…The Live Action report…includes discredited and extensively edited “sting” footage originally reported in 2008 and 2011…

This laudatory article from Christian Post has a bit more meat:

Laura J. Lederer, president of Global Centurion…[fantasized] that abortions and the sex trade are “inextricably linked.”   She recently conducted a study…in which the findings revealed that approximately 30 percent the trafficking victims surveyed reported multiple abortions.  Traffickers would routinely threaten their lives and beat them if they became pregnant, Lederer said.  One survivor whose abuse was especially brutal at the hands of her trafficker “said that she had 17 abortions over the time she was trafficked, all of them at the same clinic”…

I’m honestly surprised that the “forced sex trafficking abortions” myth didn’t become more popular, given the considerable overlap between anti-whore and anti-abortion activism.

Moloch 

Is this idiotic enough yet?  Can we stop now?

…18-year-old Mariea Starr…[of] Waynesboro, Pennsylvania…was caught by another student allegedly performing oral sex on a boy in a school stairwell…Because Starr had turned 18 two months before the incident and the boy she allegedly engaged in oral sex with…was [16, school pig Matthew Gordon]…charged [Starr] with…felony unlawful contact with minors which carries a Tier II sex offender designation…for 25 years, including being photographed by Pennsylvania State Police twice a year…Gordon brought the case without oversight from the district attorney’s office or school district administration because in Pennsylvania [pigs have absolute power to inflict charges on students]…Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal…reduced the charges against Starr to open lewdness.  She was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and will not be placed on the registry.  Nonetheless, Starr will graduate from high school with a criminal record, which will significantly affect her educational and job opportunities…Starr is far from the only student that Gordon…has [fed] into the criminal justice system…

Dirty Laundry

And yet the Times supports the evil of Ruhama, the Magdalene orders’ rebranding:

…220 survivors of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries convened for a state-sponsored meeting in Dublin…The laundries were filled not only with “fallen women” — prostitutes, women who became pregnant out of marriage or as a result of sexual abuse and those who simply failed to conform — but also orphans and deserted or abused children…The Magdalene Laundries were part of an interlocking system of orphanages, industrial schools, “mother and baby homes” for unwed mothers and church-run institutions in which Ireland…confined…At least 10,000 women and girls…between independence from Britain in 1922 and the closing of the last one in 1996…

The Spiral of Absurdity 

Why do reporters repeat this egregious nonsense without fact-checking?

A sting on the sex-trafficking trade in metro Atlanta netted dozens of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children forced into sexual servitude, the FBI announced…Operation Safe Summer was a collaborative effort between the FBI’s Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies…The sting ended with nearly 160 children rescued, including one as young as 3 years old, and nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences…

Really?  If cops had really discovered 160 kids being held hostage, this would be international news, not a minor local story.  Looks to me like some mouthpiece repeated the number of arrests as the number of “rescued children”.

Between the Ears (#407)

Velvet Swing is the first female sex aid that actually works:

…it’s not exactly surprising that [Mistress Matisse] ended up in the cannabis industry…It’s even less surprising that her first product is a weed lube, called Velvet Swing.  While weed lube—rightly touted as the first truly effective female sex aid—is nothing new, Velvet Swing is the first water-soluble version.  Which kind of means it’s the first one that really qualifies for the term weed lube.  Oil-based lubricants are…not condom safe, meaning that products like Foria or Bond Sensual Oil are effectively restricted to people in monogamous partnerships…

And naturally, Matisse uses the interview to wake up pot-business folks to sex worker rights.

Bait and Switch

Entrapment so blatant even a judge couldn’t swallow it:

…In 2014…Skagit County [Washington] detective Theresa Luvera…posted a sex solicitation on Craigslist’s casual encounters…Craigslist’s rules required all participants to be 18+. something that has undermined sex stings in the past…After some online exchanges between the detective and the defendant, the detective claimed she is underage (“almost 15 but waaay advanced”).  Even further in…the detective brought up money-for-sex.  At every step along the way but the end, the defendant seemingly made it clear he was seeking free sex with a female adult.  Eventually the defendant shows up at the designated rendezvous point baitwith the requested items…The trial court dismissed the prosecution because the “State engaged in outrageous misconduct in violation of a defendant’s due process right to fundamental fairness”…Now that Craigslist has shut down its personals section, I’m not clear where law enforcement will conduct its online sex stings…

The Crumbling Dam (#709)

Alas, Seattle “officials” think harm reduction principles only apply to drug use:

Seattle’s efforts to find a location for its…supervised injection site has turned up nothing, and now the mayor’s office is looking to go mobile.  Jeff Sakuma…point person in finding a site…[said] there are no city or county-owned buildings that meet the criteria…the $2 million the council had set aside is to low to purchase an existing building or buy land and build…a private party that could partner with the city to allow the use of their property as an injection site, “could be subject to seizure by the federal government”…As an alternative…Seattle & King County would purchase a recreation[al] vehicle and remodel it…The mobile [unit] would park either on the street or in a parking lot near a facility that would provide space for a reception area, a waiting area, restroom storage and utility space…

Worse Than I Thought (#745)

Another shitty law specifically designed to harm sex workers:

Phoenix is ramping up the penalties for [adult consensual sex] as part of the city’s ongoing effort to curb [adult consensual sex].  The City Council voted…to fine individuals convicted of soliciting sex workers $2,000 for a second offense, $2,250 for a third offense and $2,500 for each additional conviction. The mandatory fines will be in addition to jail sentences of 15-180 days.  “If we catch you … we’re going to make it as unpleasant for you as we possibly can and I don’t feel bad about that at all,” said Councilman Jim Waring, chair of the Phoenix [anti-consensual sex] Task Force…

The Widening Gyre (#764) 

Yeahno.  This still smells like a publicity stunt gone wrong:

British model Chloe Ayling has thanked those who “believed in me from the beginning” after a Polish man was jailed for kidnapping her.  Lukasz Herba held Chloe Ayling captive for six days in a farmhouse near Turin in Italy, after abducting her during what she thought would be a photo shoot last July.  He was arrested after releasing her at the British consulate, and has now been sentenced to 16 years and nine months in jail…Ayling…has always insisted she has told the truth about her captivity.  She told police she never tried to escape because she was terrified and believed Herba’s threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang that was watching her constantly…

Pyrrhic Victory (#836)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data…in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people.  It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments…HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate…face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings.  Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships.  These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias…

Blunt Instrument (#841)

With the demise of Backpage, anti-whore pogroms turn back to low-hanging fruit:

Three indictments were unsealed…alleging massage parlors in Topeka and Lawrence were fronts for prostitution…Five people were charged in federal grand jury indictments alleging prostitution businesses generated millions of dollars in revenue.  Charges included conspiracy, interstate racketeering, bank fraud and money laundering…

Note the way pigs try to make this seem like a big-time cartel by throwing around terms like “millions”; any business that doesn’t gross at least $1 million over a five-year period is probably failing.

Safe Position

If the Democrats were smart, they’d adopt this as their official platform:

…when it comes to the rights of…sex workers…elected Democrats still overwhelmingly side with the religious right and consistently fail to consult the people most affected by their policies…Now, however, a small but growing group of…candidates are heeding the outrage of their constituents and have turned against laws that make it harder for sex workers to safely practice.  At least three Democrats running in competitive House primaries are currently campaigning on their opposition to SESTA/FOSTA, legislation that passed in April and holds websites criminally liable for any [claims of] sex trafficking that occurred on their pages…the bill effectively shut down the websites that were the safest venues for sex workers to ply their trade.  Following its passage, Backpage.com and the personals section of Craigslist immediately folded.  Their collapse has already prompted many sex workers to return to the streets, where conditions are much more dangerous…

Lack of Evidence (#848)

The recrudescence of a public health nightmare:

…If you believe that all prostitutes are forced into it against their will…then prostitutes are victims.  If you believe it’s possible that it’s just a transaction between consenting adults, then it shouldn’t be a crime at all.  If you’re just a prude determined to tell other people how to conduct their sex lives in accordance with your sniffling sensibilities, then it doesn’t matter…As advocates like Maggie McNeill have made clear, there are women who choose prostitution as their occupation without shame or excuse.  This is what they choose to do, and they don’t give a damn about your Victorian mores.  You don’t have to like it, but…the demand exists and always has, and despite your sniffling, it’s not going away.  But is the answer to force prostitutes, and their customers, to risk the choice between contracting a loathsome, if not deadly, disease or enhance their time in jail?  That’s what Allegheny County is trying to do…the possession of condoms means the difference between a summons and a custodial arrest…

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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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