Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Childish Things’

Human trafficking is what we call it when women make choices that make us uncomfortable.  –  Cathy Reisenwitz Hiram Johnson

Here We Go Again

In 1913, former California Gov. Hiram Johnson signed the California Red-Light Abatement Act, outlawing bordellos…advocates promised the law would stymie the “scattering of the evil throughout the residence district…[and wipe] out the unclean profits of those who prey upon fallen women.”  Voters approved the measure by a 53.3 percent majority.  As for those “fallen women,” their jobs became more treacherous.  You see, the Abatement Act…just made it so they could no longer operate indoors without breaking the law.  As bad and exploitative as some bordellos were before the Act passed, the street only magnified these dangers and presented new ones…More than a century later, an escalating campaign to crack down on online classified portals is fanning a similar migration…activists say…

BDSM

An Orpington dominatrix has defended her secret fetish dungeon…after neighbours complained to police…From the outside it is a large, detached home on a quiet, leafy street but inside is a thriving fetish establishment…Neighbours…[claim] to have heard “whipping” and “screaming” coming from the address.  But the dungeon’s operator…”Mistress Evilyne”, said the business is legal, she is registered with the HMRC and no sexual services are offered…A tennis club spokesman [said]…”We host Crofton School for coaching and we are concerned the children might be exposed to something that they shouldn’t see at their age”…the police have not found any evidence of illegal activity…

Out of Control (The Camel’s Nose) 

Well, this is different:

An NYPD sergeant with the Organized Crime Control Bureau has been suspended, but not arrested, after throwing semen at a co-worker…Sergeant Michael Iscenko, 54, had previously told the victim, a civilian administrative aide in her 60s, that he liked her…[she] had just left the ladies restroom and was heading back to her office when Iscenko crept up behind her and threw something on the woman’s leg and her shoe…The woman…immediately filed a complaint with her supervisors, who sent a sample of the substance out to be tested, it turned out to be semen…people who know the sergeant…[said] they wouldn’t have pegged him as a pervert, because of the way he dresses…

A Procrustean Bed

“Justice system” destroys woman’s life for giving a friend a ride:

[An Ohio] woman convicted of promoting prostitution and labeled a sex offender after she drove a friend to what turned out to be a prostitution sting was granted judicial release after serving about seven months of an 18-month sentence.  But Aimee Hart…is continuing with an appeal of her…conviction because she doesn’t believe she should have to register as a sex offender…“I personally feel that they perverted the intention of the law to fit my circumstances,” Hart said…

Yeah, they do that.

Childish Things

Cathy Reisenwitz on the psychology behind support for prohibition:

…you’re at brunch with a pretty normal person.  But better educated and smarter than normal, smarter than you, in fact.  But they’ve not heard that a conservative estimate for the average age at which women enter the trade is 25.  They don’t know that even underage prostitutes start at an average of 15-16, and only 15% of teen hookers (themselves a small minority of all sex workers) enter at an age below 13.  They’ve never had Maggie McNeill in their living room.  In fact they’ve never talked to a person they knew was a sex worker.  So why do smart, well-educated people buy into the sex trafficking moral panic?  And the larger question, why do we condescend to sex workers by assuming they can’t consent to sex work?…

An Example To the West (#343)

Of course Reuters is too mired in American carceral thinking to see any of this as a problem, but this report on police responses to “human trafficking” in Thailand gives a few clues as to what an unholy mess the attempt to stop people from migrating to work has created.

A Year Later

Canada has a problem.  Her highest court ruled in 2013 that prostitutes have a constitutional right to work, but federal officials still do all they can to impose prohibition…This ad hoc law is likely unconstitutional as well…prohibitionists are driven by moralism, as opposed to policy outcomes and concern for the wishes of prostitutes.  This becomes apparent as they frame all prostitution as coercive and parrot the [myth] that Canadians enter the industry on average between the ages of 12 and 14…when it comes to practical enforcement, prohibition efforts in the United States have seen prostitutes more likely to have “freebie” sex with officers than get arrested.  Further, sites such as SugarDaddie.com...beg the question as to when dating ends and prostitution begins (as pointed out on the Bob Zadek Show with Maggie McNeill, a call girl turned blogger…

Fever Dream (#541)

Readers over 40:  in your youth, could you have imagined living in a country where statements like this were made with a straight face?

Just a few years ago, Tennessee was scrambling to combat sex trafficking.  Now…there have been 36 new laws in the past four years, including…money for more special agents assigned to investigate sex traffickers for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  And for the first time, TBI will have the power to conduct electronic wiretapping…Until now, that kind of surveillance has only been allowed for the most serious murders, drug dealing, and gang crimes…Margie Quin…says…“With the advent of websites that are strictly geared toward selling women and children for sex, being able to combat that through electronic authority will be, I think, very beneficial”…

Seizing Power 

This article on the Backpage credit card issue doesn’t break any ground readers will find unfamiliar, but the more mainstream articles on the topic the better.  And besides, it quotes me!

Read Full Post »

It’s…extremely patronizing…to say someone’s conscious choice of work is degrading.  –  Jon Millward

Eric Jason CampbellLicense To Rape

A [Mt. Pleasant] Texas police officer pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14-years-old…Eric Jason Campbell, 41, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.  He will also be required to register as a sex offender when he is released…

Saving Them From Themselves

A Massachusetts DA helpfully explains why it’s a good thing his office persecutes teenagers for “sexting”:

…”We do not have any exceptions…for kids who are really in love, for girls who wanted to do it and for guys who promised they wouldn’t share it…” [Robert] Kinzer said.  “A nude photo of [a minor’s] exposed genitalia is child pornography…When they start sharing photos like this, we are going to start charging people with the manufacturing, dissemination and possession of child pornography, and they’re going to…face [prosecution]…You’re going to lose jobs and relationships, and you’ll spend the rest of your life as a registered sex offender”…

Tyranny By Consensus

Since LA County officials have not leaped at the opportunity to waste millions of dollars policing porn shoots to enforce his private condom crusade, Michael Weinstein is now trying to force the city to establish its own redundant health department, which Weinstein presumably believes would be more easily pressured into dancing to his tune:

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced…a new ballot measure …[for] an all-new City of L.A. Public Health Department…AHF has urged Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County’s Public Health director, to shut down non-condom porn shoots…[but] Fielding…hasn’t…despite AHF-led letter and phone campaigns.  And it is well known that officials at the county Public Health Department are opposed to their agency enforcing Measure B…

Big Sister

In this column I wrote, “Prostitution and stripping are already illegal, and it seems that porn will be next, followed by censorship of print media and the internet.”  Yes, I do get tired of being right all the time:

The government is considering…internet filters, such as those used to block China off…to stop Icelanders downloading or viewing pornography on the internet…Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos…”violent pornography…has…very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” he said.

In reality, the evidence suggests exactly the opposite, but since Iceland already has the highest rape rate in Europe I guess they figure a few more raped women are just extra eggs for the totalitarian neofeminist omelette.Sex at Dawn  The story quotes the ubiquitous Gail Dines, who also used the occasion to get her name in print in the UK as well.

Presents, Presents, Presents!

This week I received a copy of Sex at Dawn  (which people have been trying to get me to read for years) from Eddie JC.  Thank you, Eddie!

That’s the Ticket!

One would think that the Comic Relief organization could tell the difference between actual statistics and the absurd claims of a “pathological liar” comedy routine, but apparently not:  “75% of women working in prostitution started before they were 18, and most of them feel trapped and would leave if only they could find a way.  The UK is a major destination country for trafficked young people…

The Course of a Disease

…Dublin City Council…rejected calls to support the Turn Off The Red-light campaign.  Amendments passed removed the proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex, and changed the report on Swedish evidence to hearsay.”  The national crusade still rolls on, but this local rejection of the Swedish rot shows that not everyone in Ireland is asleep at the wheel.

FarmVille

On March 4, a new game on Facebook, inspired by the book Half the Sky…will be introduced, with a focus on raising awareness of issues like female genital mutilation and child prostitution…The central character, an Indian woman named Radhika, faces various challenges with the assistance of players, who can help out with donations of virtual goods, for example.  The players can then make equivalent real-world donations to seven nonprofit organizations woven into the game…As her empowerment grows, Radhika moves across the globe to Kenya, Vietnam and Afghanistan…Players who reach the final level learn about sex trafficking in the United States and can donate to an organization in New York called GEMS

Because it’s really important to simplify complex issues and make them fun so that wise, benevolent white people will be tempted to manage the lives of helpless, childlike brown ones.

Little Boxes

A bill that could send women to prison for going topless in public appears set for approval by the North Carolina legislature…[it] would amend the state’s indecent exposure law to expand the legal definition of “private parts” to…include “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, [of] the female breast.”  Depending on whether such exposure is judged to be “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire,” the woman could be charged with a felony, punishable by up to six months in prison…More mundane exposure would be a misdemeanor, meriting up to 30 days in jail.  “Incidental” exposure by breastfeeding mothers would remain exempt…Rayne Brown…[said] her constituents are concerned about topless rallies promoting women’s equality…

Shift in the Wind

Another fun promotional video from the Sex Worker Freedom Festival last July:

Childish Things (TW3 #33)

Dr. Paul Maginn has published another appeal for sanity, stating that “various parts of the world appear to be suffering from a mix of moral panic and ideological myopia” on the issue of sex work.  Though brief, the article debunks lies about “sex trafficking”, “dirty whores”, “end demand” and “negative secondary effects”, and includes quotes from Drs. Laura Agustín and Brooke Magnanti.

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Oklahoma “authorities” seem even more enchanted with the notion of “human trafficking” than most Americans:

…Clarence F. Holden, 25, of Fort Smith [Arkansas] faces felony counts of human trafficking and procuring for prostitution…Officers arrested Holden and two other people…after the Vice Unit responded to an Internet post…for “a massage with a ‘happy ending’ ” for $150…Destiny Hope Niles, 24, also of Fort Smith – told police Holden keeps her money, car keys and credit card and threatened her physically…

Consider that even though this sort of petty manipulation is what passes for “trafficking” to American cops, they still can’t come up with anything like the hysterical claims.

The Public Eye

just like Mommy4 Things You Should Know About Women Who Strip” by Jennifer Ward doesn’t break any new ground for readers of this blog, but as far as I’m concerned we can’t have enough articles explaining that sex workers and our clients are “a lot more diverse than people assume them to be.”  In the same vein, three porn actors answered questions at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri:  “Lance Hart…Tori Black and James Deen answered questions as a part of a Sex Week panel event…the purpose of the panel was to foster dialogue about aspects of the porn industry that are not typically discussed, such as sexual health…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #44)

Though this article perpetuates the increasingly-common lie that the Swedish model is “decriminalization”, it at least tells the truth about the damage to sex workers caused by “end demand” campaigns:

…the “End Demand Illinois” campaign…asks that johns…become the law’s targets…[and] is working to make johns, pimps and traffickers more accountable, but it’s also sought to…stop treating prostitution as a felony.  Right now, if a sex worker is hit with two misdemeanor charges related to prostitution in Illinois, the second charge is upgraded to a felony…Last fall The Chicago Reporterfound that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers…Rachel Lovell, a researcher at Case Western University…co-authored a paper that criticized End Demand Illinois.  It argued that stiffer penalties against johns actually end up hurting female sex workers.  “The philosophy and the overarching theme of the End Demand movement is that all women in prostitution are victims,” Lovell said…it’s important to distinguish between the different ways one can be a sex worker…“To say if we increase penalties for men they will just stop buying…[is] too simplistic…”

All the Difference

Indian sex workers have powerfully resisted “sex trafficking” hysteria, and have convinced many “authorities” that they are not passive victims.  Unfortunately, the rescue industry will lose money and power if it has nobody to “rescue”, and so has increasingly turned its attentions toward abducting sex workers’ children, defending the practice with propaganda films:

Not Today…[is] a feature-length film that sheds light on the modern-day sex trafficking industry that consumes the Dalit class in India…”The world needs to understand that slavery still exists, that even today young children are bought and sold like cattle, that little girls are forced into the dark illicit sex trade, that young boys and girls are coerced to beg in the streets and bring their proceeds back to line the pockets of thugs who abuse them at night,” said the film’s executive producer, Matthew Cork…

Deep Inside infographicDrama Queens (TW3 #48)

Though I’d love to see a methodologically-sound study of 10,000 whores, 10,000 porn actors is a good start.  Click on the picture (and again to enlarge), then read Jon Millward’s article and Brooke Magnanti’s interview with him.

Get Out of the 19th Century Often? (TW3 #136)

A proposed prostitution ban met with opposition at an Atlanta City Council work session…Community leaders, church pastors and advocates against sex trafficking said the ban was harshly targeting victims of the sex trade…Chad Brock of the ACLU said they might consider challenging the ordinance if it becomes law…”Instead of pairing you up with the social services you need, they’re telling you to go away,” Brock said. “We don’t believe that’s going to help any sex worker rehabilitating themselves”…

Unclean Situation

As expected, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has issued a less mealy-mouthed follow-up to his previous pseudo-apology to the victims of the Magdalene laundries, but as blogger Bock the Robber asked,

Where is the apology from the nuns who ran these slave labour camps?  Where is the apology from the NSPCC (now the ISPCC), employers of the feared and unsupervised cruelty men who consigned so many children and young women to this slavery…Where is the apology from the Legion of Mary, whose members…[facilitated] the incarceration of people they disapproved of?  Where is the apology from the Roman Catholic church on behalf of all those parish priests who ripped children from the heart of their families because of some warped and perverted view of sexuality?…What an extraordinary society it was that deputised an assortment of self-serving busybodies…and continues to give…such power to clerics and self-appointed meddlers…

On the same day, the Telegraph carried a moving article by Samantha Long about her birth-mother, who was an inmate of one of the laundries.

Skin To Skin

This article about sex work with the disabled covers some good ground, but unfortunately also gives a platform to those who think real people’s needs should be subordinate to “messages” and sacrificed to the impossible quest for an unreachable Utopia:

…The sexual needs of people with disabilities are under the spotlight like never before after the release of…The Sessions…last month, ex-staff from a care home…[said] they had allowed sex workers into the home at the request of disabled residents…and…Becky Adams…plans to open the first brothel…for disabled clients in the UK…[but others see] the use of sex workers as a potentially harmful development.  “It’s like the world telling you that disabled people are so unsexy that the only way they can have sex is to pay for it…What disabled people need is full and equal rights. An inclusive society, which doesn’t create barriers”…

Caring Professionals

On the same day my column appeared, Robin Hustle published the similarly-themed (though broader) “What Prostitutes, Nurses and Nannies Have in Common”.  The Jezebel commentariat is predictably split between the narcissistic, the wholly clueless, and nurses who are Terribly OffendedTM at being compared to whores.

Read Full Post »

The truth is always easy to write.  –  Chi Mgbako

Damned If You Don’t

Because “prostitution” is defined purely by a motive, charges depend solely on the statements of cops and are often directed against any convenient victim:

…Guillermo Cuadra says…an apparent prostitute asked him, “Do you want a fuck?” as he was stopped at a traffic light [in Miami.  He said “no” but she signaled another cop anyway]…and…Cuadra…was…ordered into a motel parking lot where…cops pulled him out of the car, pushed his face into gravel, stepped on him and handcuffed him, then…[broke his] left upper arm, [tore] his shoulder ligament and [caused] nerve damage to his elbow and hand…[when] Cuadra [complained about his arm one of them]…responded, “Fuck you…”  Though he had just $3 in cash on him…the city falsely charged him with “solicitation of prostitution, allegedly offering the undercover police officer $60″…

The charges were later dropped, and Cuadra is suing.  If you’re wondering why the cops were so stupid as to claim he offered $60 when he only had $3, it’s because “police reports” are just boilerplate, with the details written long before the actual “sting”.  See also “Zimbabwe” below.

Updates

An Enormous Big Nothing

Reader Casey Nelson shared this story of his own experience as the target of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…I’m 50+ years old, white, a businessman and have lived in Cambodia for more than 18 years.  I’m married to an Asian woman…and have two beautiful children – a 9 year old girl and 7 year old boy…though they are not distinctly Asian, they are darker than me and not 100% European in appearance…[one Sunday while on an outing] I noticed a woman…taking photos…She held up her camera, pointed at it and said…“Photo you, internet, you pedo…for police,” in a distinctly Italian accent.  I said something like “These are my children.”  She just shook her head and started to raise her camera again.  I said, “You want police?…I’ll call police”…her mind [was] probably…twisted by the constant stream of sensational, repetitive and often wildly-overstated stories of western pedophiles and abused children in Cambodia.  And not only by the western press but by NGOs that profit from it and feed the beast with exaggerated stats and a constant stream of rehashed horrors stories that keep the funds flowing…I figure that when my photo turns up on some Italian website as another pedophile operating…in Cambodia, it will also include a story of my powerful police connections that were on their way to protect me and how she had to flee for her life…

There’s a lot more; I urge you to read it in its entirety as yet another example of the fallout from moral panics.

Convenient and Inconvenient Victims

An excellent essay on victimhood from law professor Chi Mgbako:

When many people think of typical victims of human rights abuse, they often conjure up stereotypical images of passive and powerless people…waiting to be saved.  The biases underlying these notions can lead some human rights advocates to favor  “perfect victims” in advocacy and publicity campaigns, and…to disregard injustices faced by other marginalized individuals who may inspire more ambivalent and complicated responses from the public.  The privileging of “perfect victimhood” is misguided because all people have human rights regardless of subjective determinations of “worthiness”…the danger of the…construct is illustrated by two examples:  Anti-prostitution advocates who privilege abuses experienced by victims of trafficking over violence faced by those voluntarily involved in adult sex work; and society’s failure to view economically disenfranchised black men as victims of the devastating ‘war on drugs’…

For another excellent essay on human rights being independent of “worthiness”, consult Ken White’s “Deserve’s Got Nothing To Do With It”.

A Moral Cancer

The adult obsession with adolescent oral sex isn’t at all creepy or perverse:  “The popular notion that teenagers …are experimenting with oral sex en masse is being challenged by new data…[which shows they’re] about as likely to engage in oral sex before intercourse as they are to have intercourse first…

May Q & A

Another view of the issues that can arise when a whore falls in love and tries to give up harlotry in order to be faithful to her man, courtesy of Cathryn Berarovich writing in The Gloss.

Against Their Will

As many as 45 sex workers…[escaped from a social institution in Jakarta and]…are currently being pursued by the police…30 [visitors] …were turned away at the entrance gate by 3 guards because it was not visiting hours yet…[then broke in and] urged the inhabitants to escape with them…one of the [intruders]…who was suspected [of being] the sex workers’ pimp was arrested…those social institution inhabitants would undergo guidance in terms of social, mental, physical, and other skills…

Obviously, they were forced to escape by the “pimp”; clearly they couldn’t have wanted to flee a brainwashing attempt be trafficked away from their rescuers of their own free will.

Blackball

I’ve explained how escort services blackball bad customers, and now the UK is introducing a nationwide plan to do the same. But Douglas Fox of Harlot’s Parlour has some reservations:

…Although in this “article” it is claimed that local sex work projects have operated ugly mug schemes for twenty years, real sex workers…have operated them for as long as there have been sex workers…in theory [the plan] should work nationally…however…[it] relies on local [outreach] projects…who…work only with…street workers…[and] have little or no contact with the vast majority of sex workers…The scheme also relies heavily upon the co operation of the police.  Sex workers do not trust the police, with very good reason…Although the new…scheme promises that sex workers can report crimes anonymously through their local project, the real advancement would be if sex workers were able to report crimes against them…directly, with out fear of arrest or harassment.  One is tempted to suggest that the first ugly mug listed…should be the police themselves…


Presents, Presents, Presents!

Thanks so very much to Chester Brown for sending me a copy of his graphic memoir Paying For It.  And as if the gift itself were not cool enough, he autographed it AND drew a cartoon just for me on the title page!  I’ll tell you about the book in an upcoming column, probably around mid-September.

They Still Don’t Get It

Another stenographer who fancies herself a journalist presents yet another collection of prohibitionist myths vomited out by cops.  This one’s especially fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way:

…21 suspected prostitutes [were] arrested during a two-day sting by the regional Street Enforcement Team…Federal grant money was used [because]…the focus was finding underage prostitutes and their pimps.  None were found…prostitution activity in the community …is a mix of local women desperate for money…and an emerging trend of younger Northern California women who work for pimps and target Reno, especially during special events…“Before, it would be older, local women just trying to get a motel room and a rock to smoke,” said [Sgt. Ron] Chalmers…“Now they are younger, from Sacramento being run by their pimps.  We are trying to help these women, and provide victim services,” he said…

This one has it all:  the “gypsy whores” myth, conflation of escorting and streetwalking, internet demonization, “trafficking” mythology, agency denial, a demonstration of the flaws of legalization (the stings were in Reno, Nevada, not far from legal brothels), illegal diversion of federal funds, whore as addict, victim and nuisance all at once, “rescue” as an excuse for criminalization and even Maslow’s Hammer!

Zimbabwe

Here’s a hint, ladies:  if you want this to stop, you need to campaign for decriminalization because whores look just like other women:

Hundreds of Zimbabwean women are protesting in Harare against a spree of arbitrary arrests by local police…[who] are detaining any women they see out after dark for soliciting…police said they have only been arresting commercial sex workers.  Human rights groups, however, claimed hundreds of women have been arrested every week…Inspector Sabau said the crackdown…would continue as long the constitution prohibits prostitution…

Childish Things

Dr. Paul Maginn of the University of Western Australia says it’s time for people to get over their childish attitudes toward sex work:

…the stereotypical image of a sex worker…is a woman forced to work on darkened streets…to feed her drug habit and pay her pimp…[but] the world of sex work is much more complex…Some work…out of economic necessity.  But don’t we all work to pay the bills?  Some people are coerced or part of forced trafficking.  However…research suggests the proportion of these…is very low…Yet we tend to let our minds be overtaken by…those who seek to initiate moral panics about sex work…and other forms of so-called ‘abnormal’ sexual practices, such as homosexuality …Effective policy is based on hard evidence, not media stereotypes or moralistic posturing by politicians or religious groups…

Metaupdates

A Tale That Grew in the Telling in October Updates (Part Three)

This article on a Brooklyn “john school” is like many others CNN has published since it turned completely yellow, but it’s interesting in three respects:  first, that the title calls it a “trafficking class”; second, that it states ordinary men cannot tell adult women from prepubescent children; and third, that they’ve once again lowered the “average age of entry”:

…Rhonnie Jaus, the chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau, said the class attempts to sensitize and educate the men on the dangers of prostitution to both the John and the prostitute.  “You think you’re having sex with an adult, and it…could be…a trafficked child brought from China…”  [Assistant DA Grace] Brainard emphasized that most girls enter prostitution between the ages of 11 and 14…

If the average prostitute starts at 12.5, that means there are two girls out there who started at age two to balance my entry at 33.  Clearly, basic arithmetic is not a requirement for a government position in Brooklyn.

Shifting the Blame in TW3 (#12)

Has anyone else noticed how the search for the Long Island Killer ground to a halt as soon as they recognized he was probably a cop?

…There are arguably lots of reasons why Suffolk County investigators have had a difficult time tracking down the so-called Long Island Serial Killer (or killers, there is much debate) including the condition and age of the bodies…and the difficulty of getting sex workers and their johns to work with active investigations.  But the Post today argues that at least part of the blame can be placed on the local PD not wanting to give up any PR glory to the Feds:  “Despite repeated signals by the agency that it was ready and eager to deploy units, Suffolk brass have ignored the FBI in an effort to retain control of the high-profile case”…

Chimeric phrase of the week: “sex workers and their johns.”  Kind of like “African-Americans and honkies.”

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea in TW3 (#29)

Indian sex workers again demonstrate their awesomeness:

The Board of All India Network of Sex Workers has taken exception to an affidavit filed by Ministry of Women and Child Development… “Sex workers expressed strong reaction about the affidavit filed by the Ministry of WCD before the Supreme Court that sex workers are devoid of dignity and that all sex workers should be rehabilitated by all means,” AINSW said in a statement…”Human dignity cannot be robbed by the state based on occupation, caste, creed or economics”…

This Week in 2011

“Blackball” (noted above) was followed by an example of prohibitionist cockroaches fleeing from light, a survey of my “Top Ten” columns at that time, a two-part examination of whores who think they aren’t and short articles on anti-streetwalker laws, diseased amateurs, selective partisan blindness, and a small sex worker victory against Google, plus cops harassing strippers while ignoring serial killers, the absence of “trafficking” in New Zealand and ignorant sexologists.

This Week in 2010

My first Friday the 13th, film review and miscellanea columns, escort service callers and client behaviors that drove me up the wall, “The Clipboard Effect” and “The Empress Theodora”.

Read Full Post »

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  –  1 Corinthians 13:11

The human race as a whole has developed and grown, just as an individual human develops; this growth is reflected not only in the accumulated wisdom of our species and the level of our collective behavior, but also in the number of individuals capable of mature thought.  I’m sure that even in the most ancient times there were isolated individuals who were vastly more morally developed than their fellows, and as they lived and taught or recorded their thoughts they were able to pass their wisdom on to be absorbed and built upon by the wise and perceptive of later generations.  But it’s also true that many humans still function at a very childish level, and since the insecure need to control others is one of the most primitive and immature of human traits it is inevitable that the least developed of humans are disproportionately represented in positions of power.  Another large fraction function in a sort of moral adolescence:  they are able to grasp some mature concepts quite well, yet in other areas are still hopelessly childish.

Take tribalism, for example; far too many people are unable to function as free individuals and so seek identity as a small part of some greater whole.  Some accept a ready-made identity as part of whatever race, class, religion or ethnicity they were born into, or in some cases fell into by virtue of genes or chance (the GLBT community, the disabled community, etc); others adopt some other subculture, religion, party or “-ism” later in life.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with taking pride in one’s heritage, or enthusiastically embracing a cause, group or philosophy; what I’m talking about are those people whose individuality, if they had any to start with, vanishes wholly into the group identity so that they scarcely have a thought or publicly-stated belief which is not included in the group’s scriptures or passed out like cheap adhesive name tags by its leadership.  Such people never notice the inconsistencies in their prepackaged doctrines, and if the leaders’ positions change over time you can bet the rank and file will parrot the new catechism with equal enthusiasm.  Furthermore, they will attack those they are told are their ideological enemies even in areas where their beliefs approach or even overlap those of the “enemy”; anyone who has ever read any comment threads on Huffington Post will understand what I’m talking about.  Philosophical consistency means no more to this sort of person than the fact that he has no real personal stake in “his” team means to the rabid sports fan; what is important is the group identity as a Christian, Democrat, feminist, etc.

Worse and more foolish still is the belief that a nonhuman thing, either material or immaterial, can be “bad”.  Like children or primitive people who ascribe magical properties to “lucky” or “taboo” objects, rituals or even cracks in the sidewalk, all too many moderns imagine that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful to children or even to grown men and women; that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person (or in some cases, even a clothed child) is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil.  Worst of all, those who reject the taboos of other identity groups never even think to question those of their own group, no matter how much alike they appear to the dispassionate observer.

No matter how much the human race matures, there will always be some individuals who believe in this kind of nonsense, but that’s OK; problems only arise when the children in power hire armed thugs to confine everyone else in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with them.  Once we had a set of rules we all agreed to live by, but somewhere along the line the bullies started to cheat and everyone else was either too scared, too involved in their partisan squabbles or too invested in the system to say anything about it, so here we are.  None of us, no matter how dispassionate or logical, is entirely free of irrational beliefs, and because we are all different there will always be a plethora of those beliefs.  That’s why we should all insist that laws, public policies and official actions be based on facts rather than faith, and reason rather than emotion; though we will still disagree on the interpretation of those facts (and even, in many cases, what they are), such conflicts are inescapably tethered to the concrete in a way that hogwash about evil weeds, cursed weapons and unholy words could never be.  It’s time to set aside childish things, and start dealing with one another like grownups.

Read Full Post »