Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

Watching brouhahas unfold is always very revealing; even if different people agree that whatever it was that whoever it was said or did or thought was cause for concern, they may disagree about what particularly made it so.  The most recent major gaffe committed by the eternally-boorish Donald Trump is a perfect example.  For those blissfully unaware of the train wreck we call a presidential election, I’ll recap:  someone recently discovered a recording from 2005 in which Trump made comments to the effect that women let famous men get away with gross consent violations, such as kissing or groping them without asking.  Here’s the video if you’re interested:

Getting a clean copy of this wasn’t easy; most of the versions on YouTube were either censored or edited.  I’m rather glad that happened, however, because it actually reinforces my point.  In CNN’s version, for example, the very first thing a viewer sees is a “warning” that the video contains “graphic language” (as though anyone watching would actually have never heard the words “fuck” and “pussy” before).  Next, a description: “Footage from 2005 has surfaced featuring Donald Trump using vulgar language about women”, followed by a video in which a loud “bleep” has been inserted over the words (which rather makes one wonder what the point of the warning was).  Look at the emphasis there:  someone at CNN actually seems to believe, and undoubtedly many people agree, that the most salient point of the controversy was Trump’s language, that he had uttered taboo words which would presumably ritually pollute the dainty hearing of anyone viewing the video.  The fact that he used these common words about women is presented as though that somehow makes it worse than if he had used similar words in talking about men, children, mixed groups of people or Shetland ponies; the assumption seems to be that women are delicate china dolls who are magically harmed when men emit certain sounds from their vocal apparatus, even if the woman in question did not even hear them.  If he had joked about violating the physical boundaries of women without using those words, perhaps saying “I attempted to get her in bed” and “grab their crotches” instead, would that have made it all better in the minds of this unknown CNN editor and others like her?  Because that’s certainly the implication.

But if this social conservative spin on the incident is questionable, the “feminist” spin on it is even worse.  Yesterday morning I became aware of “Grab Her By The Brain“, a site whose founders apparently feel that the problem lies in the fact that Trump’s churlish comments were sexual in nature.  The implication seems to be that while grabbing a woman by her sexual anatomy is a horrible thing, grabbing her by some part that stupid, shallow people imagine to be non-sexual is perfectly OK.  As in the CNN video, the first words one sees upon landing on the site reinforce this: “Take part in the movement that refuses to accept the objectification of women – at work, on the sidewalk, at school, in the media, empower every woman by acknowledging her unique and immeasurable contribution to society.”  That’s followed immediately below by “Value her for who she is,” which is a direct contradiction of the pusillanimous and patronizing platitudes in the line above, which urge the reader to value a woman not for who she is but for her “contribution to society”, which is quite a different thing altogether.  For right now, let’s ignore the sexism inherent in the absurd notion that only women can be “objectified”, the infantilizing concept of “empowerment” as something granted to women from without as a gardener waters vegetables, the obsequious assertion that every single woman makes a “unique and immeasurable” contribution to society (a concept that’s ludicrous even on its face), and the tired neofeminist pretense that it’s somehow “better” or “more respectful”radio-assembly-line-1925 for women to be valued for the characteristics of one organ than for the characteristics of a different one; we are still left with the dangerously anti-sex mindset which imagines that so-called “objectification” can only be sexual while blatantly objectifying women as only valuable for our “contributions to society”.  This pretense derives from exactly the same mindset as that of the Republicans whose disavowal of Trump after the comments were made public was expressed in phrases like “our wives, our daughters, our mothers”; it’s the vile and loathsome collectivist obscenity that women’s rights derive not from the fact that we’re individuals, but from our relationships to men and “society”.

Human beings, no matter what their gender, are individuals and don’t need outside collectives to “empower” them. Their rights as individuals, including their right not to be molested by either individuals or the operatives of the state, are inalienable and don’t depend on whether anyone else thinks they’re of “value” (whether for their intellect, for their sex appeal or for any other reason) to the state, “society” or any individual.  So, please, stop pretending that “grab her by the brain” is superior to “grab her by the pussy”; you have no right to grab her, him or anybody by the brain, pussy or any other part without their consent.  Human beings don’t exist to serve you, to be “empowered” by you or to be defined in relation to you.  And only they have the right to determine what they wish to give to you, the state or “society”, and the conditions under which they will give it.

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Ain’t nobody got time for this. For real.  –  Crenshanda Williams

Though I like to feature short horror films during October, the majority of such films available online are simply elaborate setups for a person in makeup and/or a costume to jump out and grab the protagonist at the end.  In other words, boring and predictable.  But though this one suffers from that a little, it has other virtues which IMHO make up for it.  The links above it were provided by Clarkhat (“much much”), Scott Greenfield (“yet” and “patronize”), Tim Cushing (“too big”), and Nun Ya (“hang”).

From the Archives

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Sex workers are getting paid for what we do – you ain’t.  –  Miranda Kane


The older I get, the more deeply weird (and frankly, kind of disgusting) the idea of giving strangers sex for free seems to me.  So I’m fascinated by the looking-glass prohibitionist notion that being paid for sex is somehow degrading, especially when I read stuff like this about what amateur dating (which I’ve never really engaged in per se) is like:

…It is not, in fact, sex-work that puts me off men.  It’s dating them.  When I was a sex worker, when a client came to see me, he knew I was a luxury item.  My Dos and Do Nots were clear from the start, and if he asked me to do something I didn’t want to, I said no and that’s as far as it went…sex workers see the best part of men – they’re polite, friendly…On a date I’m just one click away from rejection…The sex workers of Twitter created the hashtag of #banfreebies, an ironic take on what people expect of us as obviously being so “oppressed and exploited”.  Remember that, won’t you, the next time he rolls over and starts snoring and you have to bring out the Rampant Rabbit…

And since I’m bisexual, I feel it needs to be noted that women aren’t really much better.

Check Your Premises

It’s pretty bad when they can’t even maintain their own paradigm for more than a sentence:

Nine people were arrested in Suisun City [California] in a human trafficking operation…Detectives posed online as would-be ‘johns’ to contact prostitutes [that they pretended to believe to be] underage…Once the…sex workers arrived, they were [arrested] and [cops tried to pressure them into claiming to be]…victims of sex trafficking…Seven women…between the ages of 18 and 28 were arrested…

Uncommon Sense natalie-hot

Is there any other kind of work that is so consistently treated as a subject for abstract “debate” by outsiders?

German porn star Natalie Hot will appear in court…to defend her right to work as a “webcam girl”…from her detached house in Ampfing, Bavaria.  The town is home to 6,000 residents, several of whom have lodged legal complaints over their neighbour’s chosen profession.  Hot is challenging a decision by local authorities that prevented her from undressing on camera, threatening a penalty of €2,000 if she doesn’t adhere to the ban.  Their reasoning is that her house is in a specific land-use area, which does not allow for commercial use…A judge will now rule whether the room Hot uses for her work could be considered a “home office”, a label which would allow her to continue her work…

Finding What Isn’t There

You know how freshwater crabs wave their claws around and foam at the mouth when one throws them in salt water to purge them?  Picture that:

There are no statistics to back up her claims, but the country’s Chief Immigration Officer Annette Mark believes the sex trafficking problem in Antigua & Barbuda is more prevalent than perceived…Mark [fantasizes that] nightclubs and strip clubs…are to be blamed for the [nonexistent epidemic]…She said…“what is unfortunate is that the women who come seem to be willing participants, so it’s difficult to [force them to pretend] that they are victims of trafficking”.  According to Mark, while women [use sex work]…as a means of income, it is part of a slave trade…

Pyrrhic Victory

Not a police state, no sirree:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an ambitious plan to [equip]…10 bridges and tunnels leading into the city…with facial recognition and license plate reading technology, giving police a comprehensive record of every car making the crossing…

I Saw My Brain

More terrifying insanity from the pocket police-state that is Polk County, Florida:

If you happen to be heading over to Polk County Florida, be sure to check to see if you have anything on or about your person that may have someone’s business name on it…That’s what Tim Troller found out when an ever vigilant deputy saw a Sunshine State Dairy Farms milk crate strapped to his BMX bike.  Polk County takes broken windows policing to the extreme, a milk crate strapped to your bike is a major indicator that you are a career criminal, or as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokes-prevaricator Debbie Horstman put it, undoubtedly with a straight face… “Deputies are…looking for people who are doing even the smallest crime, because, what we’ve learned is, those who will go out and steal a milk crate, for example, are the same people who are probably breaking into cars, breaking into your house”…

Frequently Told Lies

Caty Simon on the “sex work leads to drug use” myth:

You’ve heard the story:  A troubled woman prostitutes herself.  To numb the pain of belonging to this sordid underground world, she begins to use drugs…and her life continues to spiral out of control…“Multiple studies repeatedly and consistently … refute this narrative,” [says] Melbourne-based sex worker Fae Adams…In a study conducted in Sydney in the 1990s, for example, a sample group of 120 sex workers were found to be lighter drinkers than a sample group of women health care workers.  They were only 15 percent less likely to abstain from illegal drugs than the control groups of students and health workers.  And a 2002 British study correlated “problematic” drug use among sex workers with teenage drug use pre-dating entry into the industry, as well as homelessness and convictions…Yet the trope about using drugs to make sex work tolerable persists—and many drug-using sex workers find it infuriating because of how it reduces and flattens their lives and strips them of their choices…

Feminine Pragmatism (#553) 

Stupid assumptions about sex work often result in incredibly stupid concepts like the idea that working independently is somehow noteworthy, or that making a law against one aspect of the work is the same as criminalization:

Italy has yet to exit from…the worst [recession] in its postwar history — and the protracted crisis has seen the number of Italian sex workers surge more than 26 percent from 2007 to 2015…The extended downturn also has fueled a proliferation of “good” women generating badly needed income by engaging in prostitution on the side as “house practitioners”…35 percent of the 20,000 prostitutes in Italy, or some 7,000 women, are house practitioners…Michel Venturelli, a criminologist who has researched the issue…[says] “It’s do-it-yourself domestic sex work”…The Italian parliament banned prostitution in 1958, shuttering brothels.  Since then it’s been chaotic in the sex-for-sale industry…

No, the parliament didn’t “ban prostitution”, as the article itself mentions later; it banned brothels, but even while those were legal many if not most sex workers worked outside of them.  The only “chaos” is in the minds of cops, prohibitionists and reporters who listen to them.

Traffic Jam (#619)

Remember what happened the last time Minnesota “authorities” claimed they had busted a “sex trafficking gang”?

About a dozen people were arrested in cities across the U.S…for running what authorities [pretend is] a sophisticated sex trafficking operation in which hundreds of women were brought from Thailand to America under fraudulent visas and forced to work as prostitutes to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in bondage debts.  The women – including one who was forced to have sex with strangers for 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week- were not allowed to move about freely and were “effectively modern day sex slaves”…The arrests, along with the recent arrest of the organization’s boss in Belgium, will effectively dismantle the operation, said Alex Khu, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Minneapolis…

You may also recall that “sophisticated operations” is the excuse pigs use to rape sex workers.  And if you haven’t yet read Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis of very similar claims made against Seattle-area Korean sex workers and clients, now would be the time.  See more of Liz’s work below.

To Molest and Rape 

The ever-vigilant Liz Brown looks at several cases of rape & sexual abuse by cops, several of which I haven’t yet covered:

…Allen Large…of the Horry County [South Carolina] Sheriff’s Office…was recently indicted by a grand jury on five counts of…[raping] multiple victims…Large…is also the subject of multiple civil lawsuits accusing him of activity such as sexual assaulting a woman who came to him to report a sexual assault, sexual harassment, and threatening to interfere with a woman’s child-visitation rights if she wouldn’t participate in nude “catfight” videos…Horry County [cop] Luke Green was indicted for [raping a sex worker]…during a prostitution arrest and the same with a confidential police informant…On September 21, New Jersey [cop] Ed Leopardi [committed]…suicide…[because he] was under investigation for [anally raping] a sex worker at a Trenton police K-9 training facility…”then allegedly wiped his penis on the headquarters’ curtains”…

The Prudish Giant (#641) 

It’s impossible to express how much this delights me:

On [October 4th]  Facebook introduced Marketplace, a new section on its mobile app that allowed its users to buy and sell things with their friends and strangers.  By the evening, the social giant was apologizing for an issue with the section, which featured some posts that would not have been out of place on the…Silk Road…Illegal drugs.  Dogs.  Guns.  Sexual services.  Baby hedgehogs…Mary Ku, a director for product management…who had cheerfully introduced the Marketplace app in a blog post earlier in the day, issued a statement saying that a technical issue had prevented Facebook’s reviewing system from identifying posts that violated its commerce policies and community standards…

Now They Notice (#666)

Note that we aren’t hearing a peep out of Gay, Inc about this any more:

The chief executive officer of a once-popular male escort website pleaded guilty…to promoting prostitution in a federal case that prompted accusations of anti-gay bias…Under a plea deal, Hurant agreed not to appeal a sentence of two years or less in prison.  His company also cannot appeal a penalty of $10 million or less…

Send In the Clowns

Watching how the clown panic develops is an example of a moral panic in miniature.  For example, note how the skateboard carried by this hoaxer myseteriously transformed itself into an “ax” for a more imaginative witness.   Everybody wants to get into the act; sales of clown masks have soared by 300% from this month last year, and the website Atlas Obscura has produced this interactive map of sightings which they say will be regularly updated.  They’ll need to expand it, though; the hysteria has spread to Canada and also the UK:

A masked man carrying a knife left a group of children aged 11 and 12 “upset and distressed” when he jumped out on their way to [school in]…County Durham…in Suffolk, a boy “younger than a teenager” was chased by “several people dressed as clowns”…Tom Jackson…a first year student at Leeds Beckett University [said]…he was “very scared” when he saw a man dressed as a clown near an underpass…Northumbria Police issued an appeal and warning after a series of incidents in Newcastle involving people dressed as clowns jumping out and scaring schoolchildren.  A 13-year-old boy was arrested…following [the] reports…In Essex, two…schoolgirls were approached by two people dressed as clowns who asked them if they wanted to attend a birthday party…People on social media have also reported clown sightings in Cheshire, North Wales, Dundee, Norwich, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.  A man dressed as a clown “wearing a hockey mask and a blood-stained poncho” was captured on camera in…Greater Manchester…

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Political opponents of [Backpage] like to imagine that without it, sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors would simply cease.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Do As I Say, Not As I Do freddie-lorick

Of course they didn’t accuse him of faking:

Ten men, including a South Carolina police chief, have been arrested in an undercover prostitution sting…Chief Freddie Lorick Sr…told officers he needed medical treatment and was taken to a local hospital. It’s unclear whether he has been released…

An Ounce of Prevention

There have been a few close approaches, but this could be the most promising yet:

British man could become the first person in the world to be cured of HIV using a new therapy designed by a team of scientists from five UK universities…presently the virus is completely undetectable in the man’s blood, although that could be a result of regular drugs.  However if the dormant cells are also cleared out it could represent the first complete cure…

Girls, Girls, Girls!

While the feds actively persecute some sex workers

The federal government is again suing a Mississippi strip club, saying its owner still discriminates against black strippers…Danny’s Downtown Cabaret…managers require African-American strippers to work exclusively at the neighboring Black Diamonds club or pay extra to work at Danny’s.  The suit alleges patrons at Black Diamonds were allowed to grope strippers in a building where air conditioning sometimes didn’t work…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

This double dose of stupid reminds me of those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials: “Hey! You got your robot whore fantasy in my blow job cafe fantasy!” “No, you got your blow job cafe fantasy in my robot whore fantasy!

An entrepreneur who hopes to open London’s first “fellatio cafe” has revealed his staff will be made up entirely of sex robots…Bradley Charvet…claims the sex-bots will be programmable to a person’s needs and will soon be seen as “totally normal”…

Shift in the Wind (#131)

An interesting article on getting funding for sex worker rights projects:

As human rights and social justice funders, we try to reach those people who are most marginalized and excluded from services and protection.  Those who are least empowered, least resilient, and hardest hit by inequality.  But one group that ticks all those boxes is systematically excluded from funding opportunities:  sex workers.  Why are not more funders stepping into this gap?  What makes even human rights funders so hesitant to take on the human rights of sex workers?…

Lack of Evidence (Extra Edition)

Future generations will marvel at their ancestors’ deeply weird obsession with female virginity:

An Egyptian MP has called for women to be forced to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university…Elhamy Agina called on the Minister of Higher Education to issue a mandate requiring him or his officials to enforce the virginity tests…Agina reportedly [said]:  “No one should be upset by this decision.  If you’re upset then that means you’re scared that your daughter is in an ‘urfi’ marriage behind your back.”  Urfi marriages can be entered into without the approval of a bride’s guardian and can only require two witnesses, resulting in a cultural perception among some segments of Egyptian society that they are covert or secret marriages…

Fever Dream

We’re not hearing quite as much of this “highway” bullshit as we used to:

…Chattanooga and Tennessee have become a focal point [sic] in the war against sex trafficking.  The effort has involved not only agencies such as the TBI and local law enforcement, it also has…made its way to Congress with the End Modern Slavery Initiative from Bob Corker, the…U.S. senator from Tennessee and former Chattanooga mayor.  As the geographic intersection of Interstates 75, 24 and 59, Chattanooga provides an easy path for pimps to transport their victims around the Southeast…That’s especially true for traffickers from Atlanta which, in 2014, was ranked as the No. 1 city in the country for sex trafficking…

Seizing Power (#593)

A win for Backpage on one front:

The Supreme Court announced…it has declined to hear an appeal from…Chicago…sheriff [Tom Dart] who was ordered to cease threatening credit card companies about doing business with…Backpage.com.  The justices let stand a lower court order that forbids…Dart from contacting Visa and MasterCard in his effort to [censor] sex [workers’ ability to advertise online]…

However, see “Crying For Nanny” below.

Challenge (#628)

ESPLERP vs. Gascon reaches a court which could potentially do something:

…ESPLERP…filed a brief in the United States Federal Ninth Circuit appealing against the Northern California District Court’s judgement dismissing ESPLERP v Gascon…Maxine Doogan [said]…“[The judge] acknowledged that Lawrence v Texas defined a constitutional right to privacy in individuals’ sexual conduct, and also acknowledged that morality was not a basis to deny that right, but then found flimsy legal arguments to deny that right…“Lawrence v Texas made it clear that governments may not intrude into the private lives of consenting adults by criminalizing their sexual behavior” said Mike Chase, longtime human rights activist…Contributions to support the court case can be submitted through…www.litigatetoemancipate.com

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-christopher-odom

A Spring Hill [Tennessee cop] has been charged with rape and sexual battery…Christopher Odom…pulled two women over for traffic stops on two separate occasions, once in June and again in July, [raping] both adult women…

Crying for Nanny (#659)

It’s difficult to overstate what a huge development this is; the allegations constitute a direct attempt to destroy Section 230 and therefore the entire internet, all so a few megalomaniacal politicians can score a few political points:

State agents raided the Dallas headquarters of…Backpage and arrested Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer on Thursday following allegations that adult and child sex-trafficking victims had been forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the site.  Ferrer…was arrested on a California warrant…[issued by] California Attorney General Kamala Harris…on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping….Harris…is running for the U.S. Senate in next month’s election…

Here’s more from super ally Liz Brown.

Dutch Threat (#678) 

Felicia Anna on the “My Red Light” scam:

…I’ve already talked about this project before…the mayor…proposed…that this brothel would be the first brothel without pimps.  A complete bullshit story, since first of all there are very few girls that actually have a pimp…and since this brothel has just as much chance of renting their windows to a girl with a pimp as any other brothel…there are hardly any abuses to begin with, as the numbers from the city of Amsterdam themselves prove…unlike how people (like the mayor for example) often claim…the mayor [is] trying to frame the current brothel owners as the bad guys…so he can have an excuse to close down the other brothels…only 6 sexworkers showed an interest in working in this brothel at all…

Send In the Clowns

As I expected when I wrote yesterday’s column, the clown panic continues to spin out of control:

A Livonia [New York] man was charged with falsely reporting an incident after he allegedly edited a clown image into a photo of [a local] Park…posted it on his Facebook page and then warned people to keep their children out of the park…Hooper…told his Facebook followers “the clown had then run away when he snapped the picture”…Hooper was charged with third-degree falsely reporting an incident…the charge is a misdemeanor…

In New York, making up idiotic stories to frighten the stupid is only a misdemeanor, but in Texas it’s a matter of national security:

..a 14-year-old [Houston] student has been charged…[with] making a terroristic threat.  The student is accused of threatening “to shoot up an HISD school with his clown friends” on social media…”We can’t ignore it,” said HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer. “We [completely lack the adult capacity to control our own actions or use any discretion whatsover]…

Just in case you think my editorialization there is a bit extreme:

…”This clown crap is really getting on my nerves,” [suburban Dallas cop] Latrice Pettaway wrote on Facebook Monday night…”Pop a cap in the first clown you see.  Someone needs to just hit one and the rest of these fools will learn”…police spokesman Shane Kizer said….said shooting people dressed like clowns is “absolutely not” how the department wants the public to respond to viral reports of clowns…

And Utah cops agree with Kizer:  “Police in Orem, Utah would like to make it clear that neither they, nor you, can legally shoot random clowns…

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Our civilisation cannot afford to let the censor-moron loose. The censor-moron does not really hate anything but the living and growing human consciousness.  –  D.H. Lawrence

defend-the-1st-amendmentEvery year, the last week of September is designated as “Banned Books Week“; the name seems to imply the kind of top-down state censorship which was at one time very common even in the US, and is still common in many countries we generally think of as advanced ones with Western values.  But this kind of censorship is very rare now in the United States, and has been for decades; the majority of “challenges” now (despite the celebration’s name, it’s pretty rare that books are actually removed from public collections) originate not with state officials or other “authorities”, but with individuals seeking to “protect the children” from thoughts their parents don’t want them to have.  Nor are those thoughts only sexual ones any more, though obviously those are still the most common reason; nowadays, demands that books be burned controlled are just as likely to come from soi-disant “progressives” as from cultural conservatives, and the reasons may include “racism”, “sexism”, “religious viewpoint”, “violence” and so on.

In a way, the name “Banned Books Week” is far too narrow to encompass everything we should be talking about, and a week is far too limited a time to be talking about it.  As I wrote above, “banned” implies a top-down regime, while in reality the majority of censorship now is the result of morons trying to self-lobotomize our entire culture; the word also implies a governmental action, when in reality the rise of social media and mega-media corporations has resulted in a de facto delegation of the censorship authority to them.  And if you’re tempted to suggest that this isn’t as bad, I suggest you ask yourself how much distribution your book will get if Amazon & Wal-mart refuse to stock it and Google monkeys with your search results to make it difficult to find.  Furthermore, “books”, as much as I love them, are now only a tiny fraction of the ways information can be shared; people who would balk at the idea of censoring actual paper books suddenly feel very differently when the conversation turns to magazines, or movies, or pictures, or music, or video games, or public lectures, or articles, or blogs, or other social media postings, or (most especially) advertising.  The same “right-thinking” folks who would march in protest if a school library declined to stock And Tango Makes Three grow strangely silent when Twitter bans a member’s account for “hate speech”, and may even be willing to march in support of censoring escort ads on Backpage.  As I wrote last year,

We are living in the past of Fahrenheit 451, the early stages of a culture which values feelings above thought, the history of a world in which the solution to any troubling idea is to eradicate it.  Right now it’s going on in the universities, where sheltered young people who have been coddled by overprotective parents for two decades are declaring themselves to be “triggered” or “offended” or even “violated” by ideas – whether spoken or in print – that they haven’t encountered before, or that contradict their opinions, or that they find unpleasant, or that bear some superficial resemblance to any of the preceding.  Just as their parents “protected” them from these unpleasant thoughts by banning them from their homes with internet filters or “parental controls”, so they feel entitled to “protect” themselves – and every other person within their sphere of influence – from those bad, icky ideas by banning them…

The censor-morons are loose, and they’re coming after everyone who dares to disagree with them.  And the only way to stop them is to oppose every attempt to limit the free expression of ideas, even if you disagree with them or find them offensive.  Correction: especially if you find them offensive.  Because as always, tyranny starts with those nobody really wants to defend.think-for-yourself

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Almost none of [the “sex trafficking” narrative] is true—and the little that is technically true is so lacking in context that it’s utterly misleading.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Anatomy of a Boondoggle 

Just another example of “authorities” paying men to rape whores:

Police raided two flats used as brothels…in Nicosia [Cyprus], arresting a woman from China and detaining another female sex worker [pretended] to be a victim of human trafficking.  A civilian associate of the police visited the brothel and used marked bills to buy sexual services…After [raping the women] the man signalled the police by sending them an SMS message…Police located the two marked bills and [stole] 347 condoms, four of which had been used, along with four mobile phones, sex toys, a computer, and the amount of €345 in cash…

Something Rotten in Sweden

It’s good to see that even reporters who credulously parrot cop anti-whore propaganda now feel compelled to at least mention Amnesty’s findings:

…It can be difficult for police to build cases against traffickers when their primary witnesses — victims — are too afraid to talk [and] don’t trust police [who]…still conduct stings against sex workers…To create more trust among potential victims and curb the demand for commercial sex, sting operations should focus more on catching johns and pimps, [fetishist cop Mark Keller] said…He also suggested changing state law to the so-called Nordic model, which makes it legal for people to prostitute themselves but illegal to pimp, traffick or purchase sex…The model could help [cops] gain the trust of sex trafficking victims…Keller said.  However, it was recently scrutinized in a report by…Amnesty International…which found it subjected sex workers to increased police scrutiny, evictions and other penalties…

The Eye of the Beholder (June Updates)

Given that there is no possibility of a child, what exactly is the rationale behind this prosecution, other than “The ‘authorities’ find this skeevy” or “The law is the law”?

A mother and daughter are facing incest charges in…Oklahoma after authorities learned they were legally married earlier this year.  It is unclear what motivated Patricia Ann Spann, 43, and her daughter, Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 25, to wed…Investigators also found Patricia Spann married her son in 2008.  He filed for an annulment 15 months later, citing “incest”…Police discovered the marriages late last month during a child welfare check-up.  Patricia Spann told investigators she had lost custody of her biological children as a young mother and only came into contact with her daughter two years ago…the couple believed the union was legal, since she was not listed as the biological mother on her daughter’s birth certificate.  Each woman faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic weiners-weiner

Maybe if we keep repeating this enough, it will eventually sink into the thick public skull:

…Despite popular headlines and self-promoting TV doctors’ proclamations to the contrary, sex addiction isn’t real…There is no doubt that some people have trouble regulating their sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors.  But addiction has a real meaning and a real clinical definition…When addicts…are shown pictures of their drug of choice there is a clear and uniform response in their P300 brain waves…However, when UCLA researchers studied the response to viewing sexually explicit images in people who self-defined as being unable to regulate their porn viewing, the results showed no similar response…In fact, they found the only thing correlated with brain wave activity was sexual desire such that the higher their self-reported sexual desire, the more brain wave activity they showed.  The authors concluded that there was no evidence to say that even problem sexual regulation fit the definition of addiction as defined by brain response and that these people simply had high sex drives…

Divided We Fall (#13)

Why does Gay, Inc never speak up for sex worker rights until it’s too late?

Indonesian police are taking aim at Grindr and other gay social networking apps following the arrest of three men accused of running a “gay prostitution ring” [advertising] underaged boys for sex.  The arrests come amid an unprecedented uproar about homosexuality in the country, where it has never been a major political issue before this year.  Members of the legislature announced…they would…ban “gay propaganda” online.  The country’s Constitutional Court is likewise currently in the middle of hearings on a petition to [criminalize]…all sex outside of marriage…Police have told local media they have identified 148 victims of the network, though only 27 of them are [supposedly younger than 18]…“More than a few gay communities have been growing and targeting kids as victims,” said Asruron Ni’am Sholeh, chair of the Child Protection Commission…

“Targeting kids”…hmm, where have we heard that accusation before?  But back when the moral retards were just warring on female sex workers, the big GLBT organizations couldn’t be bothered to notice.

Finding What Isn’t There

Note how dysphemisms and weasel-words are used to conjure a story out of nothing but rumors, exaggerations and hysteria:

More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit cantinas in the United States that largely operate beyond the reach of law enforcement, the anti-[sex work] group Polaris [fantasized]…Half of the…cases…arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population…Cantinas…may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices, and women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons…hotlines run by Polaris got reports of 201 cases of sex and labor trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 U.S. states from 2007 to 2016.  More than half the victims were underage…At one illicit cantina in Houston, some victims were forced to have sex as often as 50 times a day, it said.  The cantina owner, convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year…Cases can be hard to investigate and prosecute because traffickers and owners may hide their ownership of cantinas or liquor licenses, and because victims are too scared to testify in court, afraid that traffickers will retaliate by hurting their families…

“Apparent” victims, meaning reports from busybodies that added up to nothing.  Reports of “force” that don’t hold up because there isn’t any, which Polaris then insists are real except that the “victims” won’t admit it.  Impossibly-high claims of clients per day such as we haven’t seen in a couple of years now, using a high-profile racism-based railroading case as “evidence”, and moving the entire city of Houston hundreds of miles south to bolster their fantasy.  This is absurd even by Polaris’ standards.

Too Close To Home

Serious question: How do we nominate Liz Brown for a Pulitzer?

…On January 7, Washington officials [claimed]…women [had been] lured from South Korea under false pretenses and “held against their will” at local brothels.  [They crowed about seizing] a website where deviant men promoted and reviewed these enslaved women…King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg [said]…”The systematic importation of vulnerable young women for sexual abuse, exploitation, and criminal profiteering has been going on for years and it came to a stop this week…This is what human trafficking looks like.”  But as more information about the case has become available, Satterberg’s narrative starts to break down.  The reality—as evidenced by police reports, court documents, online records, and statements from those involved—is…a story of immigration, economics, the pull of companionship and connection, the structures and dynamism that drive black markets, and a criminal-justice system all too eager to declare women victims of the choices they make…

The piece is long, thorough and damning. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, even if you need to do so in three sittings (it’s broken into three parts).  The “sex trafficking” narrative has been slowly crumbling, and in this important article Liz has handily taken a sledgehammer to a very prominent outcropping of it.

The Mote and the Beam (#613) 

Another victory against a political witch hunt:

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena that seeks information on how Backpage.com screens for possible sex trafficking in classifieds advertising.  The order…came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers…the…stay means that Backpage need not comply…until further action from the Supreme Court…The Senate panel has tried for nearly a year to make Backpage produce certain documents as part of its [persecution of sex work advertisements] over the internet.  After the website refused to comply, the Senate voted 96-0 in March to hold the website in contempt…

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-james-robinson

Go on, keep giving male cops power over women; what could possibly go wrong?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations arrested Riverdale [cop] James Robinson Jr…[for] raping a woman he was transporting to jail…Robinson stopped the car next to an empty building near a Custom tire shop…as soon as the woman was released from jail she…asked the shop for footage from its security cameras…

One Born Every Minute (#644)

Interesting that this article doesn’t mention the anti-Backpage mob:

In a 2014 opinion in a case involving a woman who was drugged, raped, and filmed by men she met through the website ModelMayhem.com…the Ninth Circuit wrote that the CDA was not “an all purpose get-out-of-jail-free card for businesses that publish user content on the internet.”  The court found that Model Mayhem…could be sued for failure to warn as the site was aware of the model’s rapists because they were the subject of a criminal investigation for doing the same thing to other Model Mayhem users…the court found that Section 230 did not protect the website when it failed to do anything about the rapists it knew were prowling its site…a…Match.com case is very similar.  [Wade] Ridley, the suit claimed, had attacked other women using Match.com and the company had done nothing to warn love-seeking online daters about the possibility of attack.  The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of some claims, but it found that the logic supporting the court’s Model Mayhem ruling applied here, too…

Of Course It Is

A step in the right direction, at least:

…Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley [announced] criminal charges against seven [cops]…O’Malley [also] said she found evidence of [rapist cops]…in Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Joaquin counties, all outside her jurisdiction.  She said she has  contacted her counterparts there to pursue criminal action…The most serious Alameda County charges — felony oral copulation with a minor — will be filed against Oakland [cop] Giovanni LoVerde and Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy Ricardo Perez…Oakland [cop] Brian Bunton also faces a felony charge of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.  Three other Oakland [cops] will be charged with crimes…Terryl Smith…LeRoy Johnson…and…Warit Uttapa…Dan C. Black of the Livermore Police Department…faces [four] misdemeanor charges…O’Malley said it’s likely that formal charges against the officers will not be filed until Guap, the case’s primary witness, returns to California…“If the [City of Richmond] does not pay for her to come back, we will pay for her airfare,” O’Malley said…

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Our perception of what makes a service “safer” isn’t always universal.  –  Lux Alptraum

Bad Jobs

Like something Melissa Farley would make up, only true:  “A new survey shows 90% of social care workers [in Ireland] have experienced violence in the workplace…75% experienced physical assaults – some on a daily basis…

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever, especially if you’re a whore:

A prostitute was arrested after she told police a clients handcuffed her and robbed her of $2,000 in cash and her belongings…At some point after the man paid her…he pulled out a police [badge], claimed he was a [cop] and handcuffed her with fake cuffs…He took his $190 off the hotel room dresser, swiped $2,000 in cash…and…the woman’s $1,000 iPad Mini, a $40 backpack and a $100 MetroPCS phone…Police arrested the woman and charged her with prostitution…However, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case…

Above the Law  creepy-cop-neil-hempsall

There’s nothing here saying he harmed or threatened any of the sex workers he looked up, but of course there’s no way to know that given that he stalked them by looking up their fucking police records:

A disgraced cop who used his force computer to contact sex workers…was allowed to keep his job…[Neil Hempsall] admitted four charges and escaped with a community order…[the prosecutor said] “He…had been using the services of sex workers and accessing their record on the police computer system”…There was…[also] evidence he was tracking down a former lover…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#46)

I can’t help laughing at pathetic losers wanking to their fantasies of superhuman sex robots, but but the ones who suffer reaction formation from such fantasies elicit a mixture of pathos and disgust:

According to a [soi-disant] expert in the field, we’ll need to be careful we don’t get addicted to artificial-intelligence lovemaking.  Joel Snell is an [academic who fantasizes]…there’s a real risk linked to the robots…because they’ll offer great sex at any time of the day and night…it’ll never be able to turn you down.  “People may become obsessed by their ever-faithful, ever-pleasing sex robot lovers,” he warned.  “People will rearrange their lives to accommodate their addictions”…

Bonus stupid anti-sex trope: “sex addiction”.

Lack of Evidence (Extra Edition)

It’s a sign of our culture’s deeply-sick sexual attitudes that people still believe in “virginity tests”:

[Dear Dr. Petra, my boyfriend is] like me…a virgin.  But when he checked my vagina he said he could tell I wasn’t a virgin and he doesn’t feel able to be with me until I can be truthful.  I don’t know how to convince him that I am a virgin and don’t know what signs he can see that tell him I’m not…I’m now worried I might be mistaken about myself…[Dr. Petra Answers:] I’m sure everyone reading this [is]…wondering what the circumstances were that led up to him checking your vagina?…You may have told him to get better educated about virginity and women’s bodies.  You might have told him his actions felt alarming and controlling…You could have said he clearly had no idea what he was talking about.  Any or all of these responses would have been reasonable.  And all of them are a good enough reason…to end the relationship without further discussion…There will be other people who are kinder, more sexually informed, more respectful, better communicators and won’t subject you to virginity checks…

Cardboard Cutouts

Note that 1.5% is my standard estimate of coercion among Western sex workers:

This week new statistics on human trafficking in The Netherlands where presented by the Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking [and]…the city of Amsterdam…the Dutch Rapporteur reported…1,321 possible victims of trafficking…66%…from the sex industry…these are not proven victims, but simply people of whom other people (police, marshals, city officials and social workers) have (slight) suspicions about that perhaps they could be victims…if…there are about 827 possible victims in prostitution, and the total amount of sexworkers in The Netherlands are estimated at around 20.000…it would come down to about 4,1%…only 102 possible victims in prostitution where reported in Amsterdam…[which] would come down to about 1,5% of all the sexworkers in Amsterdam…what’s interesting is to compare the suspected victims with the actual number of victims that annually actually press charges…in 2015…33 victims actually [pressed] charges for human trafficking, which is almost the same as the year before (29 in 2014) and the year before that (32 in 2013).  In short, quite a bit lower than how many people are being reported as “possible” victims…

Feminists and Other Puritans

Once again:  NO, a coalition between two different fundamentalist groups to fight what they perceive as a common enemy is in no way “surprising”:

…the surprising nexus between radical feminists and Christian Right culture warriors has been with us a long time.  In the 1980s, anti-porn feminists like Catherine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin teamed up with anti-porn conservatives like Edwin Meese, leading to the passage of laws censoring sexual speech in the name of protecting women.  In the last decade, anti-prostitution feminists have joined forces with fundamentalist Christians to prosecute sex workers under the aegis of sex trafficking laws.  And now, some essentialist feminists – pejoratively nicknamed TERFs, for “Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists” – have provided the pseudo-philosophical basis for fundamentalist Christians’ anti-transgender laws…[while] TERFs…approvingly cite…anti-trans [Christian]…right-wing scholars and writers…Feminists…and…Conservatives don’t oppose porn because they want to protect women; they oppose porn because they oppose sexual licentiousness and free sexual expression.  Just like they oppose protecting trans people because transgender reality scares them, disgusts them, or offends their outdated theologies.  A similar shell-game has recently arisen in the context of sex trafficking…This was a deliberate deception on the part of anti-sex activists like the anti-prostitution group Demand Abolition.  As exposed by The Washington Post in 2014, that group’s internal document said that “framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support”…

Hey, Jay Michaelson:  I appreciate your mentioning my work, but the standard practice when doing so is to name the author rather than just the publication, and to include a link to the piece cited.

Guest Columnist:  Kaytlin Bailey

My friend Kaytlin Bailey, on coming out to her father:

…I was afraid to tell him about my having been a prostitute because he was a great dad.  I didn’t want him to think one had anything to do with the other.  I didn’t want to burden him with this indulgent, selfish secret because I feared the images that “your daughter was a prostitute” would conjure might break him, even when his various tours of duty didn’t…We talked for hours, never addressing my prostitution directly. We got tipsy, and…he said…that he was proud of me, and that I could always come home.  “No matter what.”  I could see he wasn’t angry.  He was nervous for me the same way he’s always been…

Go read it.  Please. playing-cowboy-in-cartagena

They Never Learn

Since this self-aggrandizing fascist wankfest hasn’t sold as a TV show, they made a pilot movie:

“Just like the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin brought awareness to slavery and helped start a civil war, this movie can instantly turn that dial of public awareness to sex trafficking,” [fantasizes] director Chet Thomas.  Toward the beginning of The Abolitionists, a film with a limited release…the audience is introduced to “Batman”…a flawed hero with a troubled past who now works largely in the dark of night, protecting the vulnerable from unimaginable horrors…Batman…spent 15 years laundering money for drug cartels in Latin America…[until he had] a Christian epiphany…Nowadays, he works undercover, largely with a former Homeland Security officer named Tim Ballard.  The two of them set up sting operations worldwide that result in the capture of those who sell children as sex slaves…The directors of the documentary…also are working on a TV show.  They say they have enough video — taken with cameras disguised as sunglasses, pens and phones — for 25 episodes…Ballard’s organization, Operation Underground Railroad, has rescued 573 children worldwide and put 160 criminals behind bars…

Choke Point (#610)

The government-encouraged gentrification of the internet is tightening the noose on sex workers:

Lately, it seems like every website wants to see my ID.  Facebook was the first…then Airbnb started asking me to submit both a Facebook account and legal identification…And now Twitter’s opened up its verification process to all sorts of users—provided, of course, those users are willing to send the staff a copy of their legal identification…this push towards a verified internet…makes me concerned that the next iteration of the social media sites that have been essential to the destigmatization of sex work…won’t be quite so amenable to sex work…It should be relatively obvious why a tweeting escort would want to avoid providing her legal information…but even practitioners of legal sex work such as porn and stripping might not be too keen on the idea…it’s…possible that the potential chilling effect on sex worker voices is more than just an unintentional side effect…

The End of the Beginning (#668) 

A reminder that in most of the US, the situation is still worsening:

When he was 18, David Clark had sex with a 14-year-old.  In 1982 he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct…and was sentenced to four years of probation.  The following year, the state legislature passed a law that retroactively required Clark to register as a sex offender.  In 2009 he was arrested for failing to register…He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.  Last week a federal appeals court [pretended] there was nothing constitutionally amiss about this series of events, because the law threatening to put Clark behind bars is [supposedly] not punitive…retroactive application…violates the Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws…[but politicians and courts pretend that] forcing sex offenders to register is not a punishment…

Of Course It Is

It’s nice to know that at least a few reporters get this:

…TV stations plastered [Celeste Guap’s] image on newscasts.  Reporters hounded her for interviews and shared images from her social-media accounts on their websites.  During this time, Guap was [using heroin]…to cope with depression related to her [sexual abuse by cops]…last week…Florida deputies arrested Guap and charged her with felony battery…How did the Bay Area media react to this news?  At least four local outlets — including KTVU, SFist.com, ABC 7 and KRON — published Guap’s true identity and legal name, along with a “mug shot” from Florida jail…some local journalists are arguing that Guap’s case already was widely publicized, so it was OK to disclose her legal name…Bullshit.  The only reason her story is news…is because she was an underage victim of sexual assault [by cops]…And her legal name and identity should be protected as such…and…what the hell was Guap doing [in Florida] in the first place?…She’s a witness to…crimes committed by numerous Bay Area [cops, including]…human trafficking, statutory rape, interfering with a police investigation, illegal use of a police computer system, and pandering…she’s…trapped with a $300,000 bail and detoxing from hard street drugs cold-turkey, and…experiencing [jailhouse] harassment from [jailers]…

It’s What They Do

Thanks, Iain, but we don’t want to be “legalized and regulated”; we just want to be left the Hell alone:

The politician in charge of the Commons committee reviewing the laws on prostitution is caught in a prostitution scandal.  It is right for Labour MP Keith Vaz to resign as chairman of the Commons Home Affairs committee for the time being…But beyond that, Jeremy Corbyn is right about it being “a private matter”…Mr Vaz has done nothing illegal.  Even the “poppers” he was alleged to have taken are a legal stimulant.  But a lot of people seem to believe that Mr Vaz should now stand down as an MP simply because he was unfaithful to his wife…Yet…people have always had affairs…gay men should surely not be forced do disclose their sexuality if they feel uncomfortable about doing so…Some of the criticism has clearly come from supporters of what is called the “Nordic model” who believe that the buying of sex should be illegal.  But this story vividly illustrates the problems associated with changing the law to criminalise men who purchase sex…I can’t really understand why the sale of sexual services should ever be illegal unless it involves trafficking, pimping, compulsion or other forms of coercive behaviour.  The Vaz case – if the allegations are true – demonstrates why prostitution should be legalised and properly regulated.  So long as it is underground, the sex trade will remain in the hands of the criminals and blackmailers…

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