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Posts Tagged ‘Disaster’

Sex workers…are human beings who[se]…rights to health, safety, self-determination, and bodily autonomy should not be subject to debate or sacrifice to abstract principles.  –  Green Party proposal

If It Were Legal

I’m willing to bet this was either a findom arrangement or a blackmail fantasy:

The second in command of the Harris County [Texas] Treasurer’s Office is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a county credit union to pay a dominatrix who was blackmailing him.  Gregory Lueb was arrested…and charged with felony theft of up to $30,000…Lueb told investigators…the woman eventually demanded money and threatened to tell his wife…

If he’s telling the truth, and if sex work weren’t illegal and stigmatized, he could’ve gone to an established professional instead of some sleazy amateur.

The Punitive Mindset

The need to censor is one of the most twisted of perversions:

A federal judge is considering whether South Dakota’s statewide ban on porn in prisons is constitutional.  The case arose from an inmate, Charles Sisney, who says all sorts of non-pornographic content got caught up in porn prohibition, including a yoga magazine, images of Michaelangelo’s work, and Japanese comics. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota and the National Coalition have filed briefs in support of Sisney’s case…the parameters of the ban go way beyond adult films, nude images, or other things that most people would consider to be porn.  Prisoners are banned from writing sexually explicit letters or receiving them, and from receiving any visual or written material that’s deemed sexually explicit…

Three Steps Back

In December 2010, New Orleans decided to de facto decriminalize marijuana and prostitution, then it changed its collective mind and recriminalized them.  We’re all familiar with what happened afterward with sex work, but two years ago the city actually went ahead and truly decriminalized weed, with the following results:

…newly released city statistics show that New Orleans police have taken the city’s cannabis decriminalization efforts seriously, and now make arrests in only 1% of minor cannabis incidents.  The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance two years ago  decriminalizing minor cannabis possession, giving [cops] the discretion to ticket rather than arrest suspects found with small amounts of pot…NOPD has all but eliminated marijuana charges from their protocol, reducing the rate of possession-related arrests from 72% of all police and pot interactions in 2011-2014, to the newly released number of only 1% in the last half of 2016 and first half of 2017…last year saw 5,000 fewer cannabis-related arrests in New Orleans than took place half a decade ago…

And yet they can’t seem to grasp that decriminalizing sex work would have similar benefits.

Stand-Up Guys 

Shift in the Wind

It looks like the Greens are poised to become the second US political party (the Libertarians have held the position for decades) to adopt decriminalization as an official position.  The new position has apparently been approved by Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Utah, and by the party’s Black Caucus, Lavender Greens and Young Greens.  The explanation of the reasons for the change starts like this:

It is the opinion of the authors of this document that the party’s current stance on sex work…is morally indefensible, ideologically incoherent, and politically damaging.  The submitted revisions represent an effort to eliminate derogatory language, move the Green Party’s stated policy prescriptions away from carceral state solutions and more in line with the current thought of human rights groups such as Amnesty International, and…condemn…violence against women without condemning or negating the existence of individual sex workers…

Worse Than I Thought

Anti-whore assholes just keep getting bolder:

California Senate Bill 1204…sponsored by…Patricia Bates…is aimed at broadening the definition of “pandering” within the State of California…to [include anyone] “who arranges, causes, encourages, induces, persuades, or procures another person to be a prostitute”…What does “encourages” mean? If I say to my friend “hey you would make a great prostitute!” – have I just encouraged that person to be a prostitute and therefore I am guilty of the crime of pandering?  What about my free speech rights?  What if my friend who is a prostitute says, “gee I wish I could see a client today because I really need to feed my child/pay my rent but I cannot afford condoms” and I give that person condoms, have I encouraged the act of prostitution?  What if I as a lawyer – give advice to a prostitute…have I just committed pandering?…I would encourage you to contact Senator Patricia Bates office and encourage her to kill her own bill…

The Punitive Mindset (#688) 

Long-time readers know that I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons since 1981, and that it’s my all-time favorite game.  I’ve alluded to it many times and even written a few columns touching on it, and though I haven’t played in about 8 years now I’ve recently started thinking about starting up a new game for some friends.  So I quite enjoyed this long-form article about the game, its history and its long record of being attacked by authoritarians for promoting imagination and free thought.  I decided to list it under this category because the article includes a section on prison officials banning the game (because of course they would), which I reported on in the above-linked column.  But really, I just couldn’t pass up calling it to your attention at a time when most of the contents of this blog are darker than any imaginary dungeon, and the real world is dominated by far scarier monsters than any I ever made up for the heroes to defeat.

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#787) 

Yes, this is a supposedly sane adult arguing that toasters have “feelings” and can “suffer”, while classifying sex workers as subhuman:

Late in 2017 at a tech fair in Austria, a sex robot was “molested” repeatedly and left in a “filthy” state.  The robot, named Samantha, received a barrage of male attention, which resulted in her sustaining two broken fingers.  This incident confirms worries that the possibility of fully functioning sex robots raises both tantalising possibilities for human desire (by mirroring human/sex-worker relationships), as well as serious ethical questions …there are certain elements of relationships between humans and sex workers that we may not wish to repeat.  But to me, it is the ethical aspects of the way we think about human-robot desire that are particularly key…

Yes, moral retard Victoria Brooks there describes vandalism of a machine as “molestation” and waxes poetic about this object’s “suffering”, while twice in a short section referring to sex workers as things apart from humans.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#792) 

Possibly the most pathetic of all things: a gay male prude:

…how Grindr is affecting gay men….doesn’t look good.  The most common reason users gave for going on the app is that sex feels great and Grindr makes it accessible, right at your fingertips…Neuroscientists have shown that orgasm causes activation of pleasure areas of the brain like the ventral tegmental area while deactivating areas involved with self-control.  And these patterns of activation in men are strikingly similar to what researchers see in the brain of individuals using heroin or cocaine.  So when a neutral action (clicking on Grindr) is paired with a pleasurable response in the brain (orgasm), humans learn to do that action over and over again.  This can be…a setup for addiction…

Disaster

It usually starts with us, but it never, ever stops with us:

…Sex workers are the canaries in the digital coal mine, and SESTA, if it isn’t fought and reversed, is a disaster for all kinds of online speech…It’s no surprise that a bill like this has manifested alongside the #MeToo movement — it challenges what it means to for sex workers to consent, and takes aim at the online speech that acts as evidence that we have…The ambiguously written bill creates what is in effect a special loophole to target the speech of sex workers within the sweeping legal protections given to online speech.  And because marginalized groups often act as Patient Zero for regressive new laws, it will be no surprise when this new approach to censorship eventually spreads across the internet…The difference between what sex workers and their advocates say — that trafficking is a relatively minor issue in their industry — and what anti-sex trafficking legislators believe reflects the country’s long held reluctance to believe women when they tell the truth, especially when it involves sex.  One place where that truth is told daily is the internet communities where sex workers reside in safety and solidarity, and SESTA is designed to break up these communities…

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The major purpose of [FOSTA] is to…punish anyone who…engages in sex work.  –  Steven Thrasher

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

A Toledo [cop] was issued a summons…during a prostitution sting at a Columbus area hotel…Mack Collins…was not arrested…

Gullible’s Travels

I reckon the panic industry’s been too busy with Trump, guns, opiates and “sex trafficking” to come up with as many dumb “teen fad” panics as they used to:

…educators are warning about a “condom challenge” being spread online by YouTube videos and social media…The challenge involves  snorting an unwrapped condom up one nostril, then pulling the condom from the throat out the mouth…Snorting a condom up your nose not only poses a choking hazard but also puts you at risk for allergic reactions and infections…women [who] accidentally swallow…condoms [can] developing ailments ranging from pneumonia to appendicitis…The condom snorting challenge may eclipse the most recent viral video fad among teenagers, which involved eating brightly colored Tide Pods

Yeah, I’m sure this is going to be so much more popular than video games.

Bogeymen

Five years in prison for talking to someone online:

A Brockton man who recruited women online for prostitution, including an undercover police officer, was sentenced to five years in state prison for human trafficking…Shakwaan Simpkins…had “used a website with the express purpose of recruiting a woman to engage in prostitution,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said…

That’s all he did: talked to a pig on the internet.  Five years in a cage, at a cost to the taxpayers higher than if he were sent to Harvard.  I’m sure the good puritans of Massachusetts feel safer now that this evil texter is locked up.

Censor Chic

Corporations are becoming the favored tool of censors:

Earlier this month, the European Commission published a new [diktat] demanding that internet companies remove…content flagged to them in less than an hour — or face legislation forcing them to do so….Google and other big tech companies still publish transparency reports, but they now seems to serve a different purpose:  to convince authorities in Europe and elsewhere that the internet giant is serious about [censorship on bureaucratic demand]…The more takedowns it can show, the better…Expect additional “transparency” designed to underline Google’s own [internally-generated censorship]…the…report does not yet include a full accounting for YouTube…But Google has hinted it will soon produce a dedicated report for the video sharing site.  When and if it does, it promises to show not thousands but millions of annual takedowns, many for copyright violations, but also many for breaking “community rules”…The pace of private sector censorship is astounding — and it’s growing exponentially…

All-Purpose Excuse (#718)

Fans of the Democratic party need to remember their team did half the work of creating this lunacy:

Roseanne Barr was under attack this weekend for supporting President Trump’s efforts to end human trafficking.  CNN and other MSM media outlets claimed Barr’s tweet supporting the President’s efforts relied on a conspiracy theory while dismissing President Trump’s efforts. Roseanne was right.  Our analysis shows that arrests for human trafficking were up 150% in 2017 and are on track to be up nearly 500% in 2018 over 2016 numbers…

Actually, she’s not right; click on the title for Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis of these bogus numbers, which come from the tinfoil-hat “Pizzagate” crows of which Barr is a member.  However, I must point out that given the vague definition of “human trafficking”, it’s easy for any executive to increase “human trafficking” arrests by simply ordering cops and prosecutors to charge basically everyone they arrest in prostitution, immigration or immigrant-labor stings with “human trafficking”.  Given Trump’s ICE pogroms, I’m surprised it has only gone up by 500%.

Eternal Vigilance (#732)

Puritans are still upset about the fact that some women are comfortable paying our rent (and other expenses) with sex:

…Renting rooms for sexual favours is seen as a growing menace by [busybodies], and a byproduct of a housing crisis where young people are unable to find somewhere to live without spending exorbitant sums.  The [so-called] problem has become particularly marked in university towns, where young women are targeted by rogue landlords.  But while then justice secretary David Lidington last year said such offers may breach the Sexual Offences Act, there is frustration that more is not being done.  “Since last year, there has not been a single arrest, let alone a conviction, let alone anybody actually going to jail for it,” says [politician] Peter Kyle…[who] has consistently called for landlords who offer accommodation in exchange for sex to be prosecuted [for upsetting Kyle’s delicate fee-fees]…

Backwards into the Future (#778) 

Note that the headline blames the girls rather than the busybodies who want them unemployed:

The Global Fund is pulling out of a controversial partnership with Heineken but not for the reason most cited by critics.  [Crypto-moralists]  had been blasting…the Global Fund…for backing a partnership with Heineken to “fight infectious diseases in Africa.”  Some activists said it was [better for people to die of malaria than]…to align with a product that can be detrimental to people’s health…The Global Fund  shrugged off that criticism for weeks.  The plan was for Heineken to use its extensive logistics and communications expertise to help the Fund deliver medical supplies.  Now the Fund says it’s suspending the deal not out of concern for the people who drink too much Heineken but…because of “the company’s use of female beer promoters in ways that expose them to sexual exploitation and health risks”…for more than a decade [anti-sex groups have moaned about]…the exploitation of “beer girls” in Southeast Asia, including women working to boost sales of Heineken in bars in Cambodia.  Also known as “promotion girls,” these (primarily young) women encourage male customers to order a particular brand of beer.  The women earn relatively low wages, often survive off tips and…[often] moonlight as sex workers…

Cooties (#811)

Cops trying to draw others into their “sex slave” fantasies are a more dangerous version of time-wasters who call whores to masturbate to the sound of our voices:

Human traffickers [are fantasized to] be putting up sex workers in Cumbrian bed-and-breakfast businesses before moving them on to pop-up brothels…[cops pretend] that “a significant” proportion of illegal moving of people nationally is being carried out under the guise of tourism…[cops] urged business bosses and the public to [spy on their fellow citizens]…Detective Superintendent Lesley Hanson said…”We [masturbate to the fantasy] that pop-up brothels are set up across the county and there are victims forced into prostitution”…

To Molest and Rape (#814) 

Seeing this one power being taken from cops is a small victory, but a victory nonetheless:

Maryland is among 35 states that lack laws prohibiting police from [raping] those they arrest…New York’s legislature recently voted to change its law…Brooke Lierman…wants to make the same change in Maryland.  Her bill to do that has passed the House.  She told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee…that she was moved to push for the change after reading reports about women who were raped while in police custody [and the rapists get away with it by claiming it was consensual]…

Disaster

Now they notice.  Good going, Gay, Inc!

…More people should care about sex workers’ rights.  But if you think none of this applies to you because you’re not queer or into kink or sex work, think again: the US Congress wants to further regulate sex by way of the internet, and most people’s modern sex lives interact with the internet.  Craigslist shut down its entire personal section because of the overreaching congressional desire to control sex work.  And there’s no reason Congress couldn’t similarly intimidate Tinder or Grindr to remove you or shut down entirely as it has Craigslist…the real sex panic is not due to feminism run amok, but due to the patriarchal, homophobic, transantagonistic, theocratic desire of the US Congress to control sex workers – and, by extension, to smother the sexual desires of any of us who don’t want to conform to their puritanical ways.

Here are a few more of those in that “any of us” category:

…Another website taken offline was Pounced.org, a dating site for “furries” – or devotees of anthropomorphic animal characters who like to dress in costumes…“with limited resources and a small volunteer staff, our risk for operating the site has now significantly increased…if someone posts an ad looking to exchange sex…and we don’t catch it, is that facilitating prostitution?”…Microsoft…issued a change to its terms of service which will ban “offensive language”…from its services, including Skype…YourDominatrix.com ended all US listings, with a note saying it was “due to a recent bill passed by Congress”…the escort forums on “Hung Angels” shut down…VerifyHim, a site devoted to helping sex workers stay safe by screening their clients, also removed its discussion forums…On Twitter, sex workers…were passing around safety tips and “self-censoring” advice for the new era, while others were converting to secure email accounts and offshore internet hosting sites…

Morality Lessons (#826) 

Looks like at least one dangerous censor-moron is on his way out:

New revelations about the man who authored trendy anti-porn and digital censorship legislation has killed its chances in…Rhode Island…and may doom it…in the 17 other states with similar proposals…Chris Sevier…sometimes called [his brainchild] the “Elizabeth Smart Law”…[but] Smart recently demanded that Sevier stop using her name…It’s a bad legal month all around for Sevier, who had sued in federal court for the right to marry his laptop…A federal judge in Utah threw out the case…The whole fiasco isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of how a lot of state officials approach the lawmaking process.  At minimum, you’d think someone…would put a smidge of effort into finding out basic background about the people whose whims they’re attempting to enable into law…

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Stormy Daniels is…not speaking out because it’s fun or a great career move.  –  Savannah Sly

One Size Fits All

This is almost three years old, but it’s too good to pass up:

Many children in west Africa are brought up in households belonging to people other than their own parents.  There is a long tradition of fostering, yet in many cases the practice is now [claimed] to constitute “trafficking” or “modern slavery” because the children involved are put to work during their stay.  This makes little sense, yet the terminology of “human trafficking” and its consequences—namely that the “traffickers” involved should be prosecuted—has remained in vogue since at least 2000 with the support of European and American funding.  This has almost certainly caused more harm than good…ideas and methods imported from Europe and North America…have sought to prevent children from working away from home, rather than to protect children from harm regardless of where they live and whether they were at work or school.  This approach fails to adapt to the realities of childhood in west Africa and the practicalities of growing up in villages with little infrastructure…

Pyrrhic Victory

Toward the end of privacy, everywhere:

…the CLOUD Act…was never reviewed or marked up by any committee in either the House or the Senate.  It never received a hearing.  It was robbed of a stand-alone floor vote because Congressional leadership decided, behind closed doors, to attach this un-vetted, unrelated data bill to the $1.3 trillion government spending bill…All the bill requires now is the president’s signature…Because of this…U.S. and foreign police will have new mechanisms to seize…your private emails, your online chats, your Facebook, Google, Flickr photos, your Snapchat videos, your private lives online…without a warrant and with few restrictions…the CLOUD Act…will…Enable foreign police to collect and wiretap people’s communications from U.S. companies, without obtaining a U.S. warrant…Allow foreign nations to demand personal data stored in the United States, without prior review by a judge…Allow the U.S. president to enter “executive agreements” that empower police in foreign nations that have weaker privacy laws than the United States to seize data in the United States while ignoring U.S. privacy laws…Allow foreign police to collect someone’s data without notifying them about it…Empower U.S. police to grab any data, regardless if it’s a U.S. person’s or not, no matter where it is stored…

Whatever They Need To Say

Gentrification is one of the most common motivations for persecution of all kinds of sex workers:

Gentrification is often seen as an organic process that cities undergo.  Jeremiah Moss, the author of the book and blog Vanishing New York … says, “Gentrification was originally defined as the process by which working-class neighborhoods are changed into middle-class neighborhoods by the middle-class who buy homes there…Now we’re dealing with something much larger and more destructive — what I refer to as hyper gentrification which is not an organic process.  It’s the government stepping in with policies and zoning to remake the city for the upper classes.  In order to that, outlaws have to be removed, including sexual outlaws.  So adult businesses have to go…The hyper-gentrified city must be safe, friendly, and welcoming for tourist families and major corporations”…Shutting down adult businesses was on the top of [New York] Mayor Giuliani’s list throughout his terms.  Giuliani claimed strip clubs, peep shows, and x-rated video stores were “corrosive institutions” that contaminated neighborhoods and prevented “legitimate businesses” from prospering…

Blunt Instrument 

“Sex trafficking” is such a convenient weapon to use against adult businesses:

The Milwaukee Common Council voted not to renew the license of a…night club [using] sex trafficking [claims].  The vote came after…neighborhood [complaints that]…the owner of Tatou Ultra Pub…planned to renew the club’s license and then sell the business to VLive, a nationwide chain of strip clubs…aldermen were warned that the city attorney’s office could have trouble defending the city in court if aldermen failed to renew the license…residents [pretended] Tatou had contributed to loud noise and reckless driving in the area…[yet] there…were no recent police records documenting any nuisance activity at the club…

Under Every Bed

Population 36,000:

The Westerville [Ohio] community is learning how to spot signs of human trafficking after police busted a local massage parlor for prostitution.  [Cops pretend] they’ve seen an increase in human trafficking in the area…”It’s not the stereotypical human trafficking we’re used to.  A lot of these ladies can come and go, but they are threatened to stay in that environment,” Chief [Pig] Morbitzer [fantasized while playing pocket pool]…”One we shut down for prostitution reasons, one we cited for taxation reasons and one that was trying to open up was prohibited because of zoning code issues”…a…community meeting was hosted by the [pigs, a “diversion” program protecting its funding]…The Salvation Army, and [another rescue industry group]…

Monsters 

This brings the toll to 7 already this year:

[A trans woman was murdered] in Baton Rouge, LA…Amia Tyrae Berryman…was 28 years old.  Her body was found at…a…motel…with gunshot injuries…local media stating WBRZ…misgendered her

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (#603)

The next generation of sex worker security apps:

A new security application, Artemis’ Umbrella, has been developed for sex workers in Finland, and can be used anywhere in the world.  The app alerts a trusted contact when sex workers are in trouble, and uses location services to track the smart phone…it is possible to alert a pre-arranged friend if something like a customer meeting goes wrong and needs help.  The alarm can be triggered via the alarm button or via the timer (the alarm will be triggered if the function is not shut down in time).  Both alerts will also include the person’s location information…the application was…tested…in both Helsinki and Mumbai…

Morality Lessons (#783)

“The National Center on Sexual Exploitation” is the new self-aggrandizing name for pro-censorship fanatics Morality in Media:

…After collaborative dialogue with NCOSE, Walmart will remove Cosmopolitan magazine from checkout lines at 5,000 stores across the country. Protecting minors from the sexually explicit material that Cosmopolitan embodies and perpetuates has been a long-time priority of NCOSE

Agenda

Is this dumbass for real?

…I am pretty disappointed in the modern high-priced prostitutes of today.  They have no sense of honor and ethics…I do think that at one time in history there were professional prostitution ethics, where whatever happened between a man and his paid companion, there was the security of keeping things private.  In today’s world there seems to be no honor between a man and his contractual relationship between him and his paid companion…There is no honor among the profession…What’s the world coming to when you can’t trust a whore anymore?…

I can almost believe this ignorant weed’s claim that he’s never paid for sex, because he seems to know even less about whores than the average prohibitionist.  Besides his obviously-wrong-on-its-face central theme, he makes totally backward assertions like “Solon, the great Athenian legislator, was the first to actually legalize prostitution…”  No, you idiot, Solon was the first to try to criminalize prostitution.  Where do morons like this get this shit?  Do they literally look in the toilet and say, “Hey, that looks good, I’ll use it as a ‘fact’ in my next essay”?  WTF?  Why does every fuckwad think five minutes on Google make him an expert in my profession?  But I guess I’d better stop now, before I infuriate myself.

Morality Lessons (#820) 

It looks like Chris Sevier, the anti-porn fanatic behind the “mandatory porn filter” bills now making the rounds of US state legislatures, is about to do a massive pratfall:

Elizabeth Smart sent a cease-and-desist letter to prevent her name from being used to push a Rhode Island bill that would require a $20 fee to view pornography online…It is one of several similar bills pushed by Chris Sevier, who says the bill would protect children…Sevier said he chose Smart’s name as a tagline for the bill…[until he was] told…Smart was potentially pursuing legal action, [after which he claimed] the…name had been given to the [bill] by lawmakers…his website…specifically refers to [it] as “the Elizabeth Smart law”…[fellow anti-porn fanatics Morality in Media] has slammed Sevier for falsely claiming the[y]…supported his work…Earlier this month, a federal judge in Utah threw out Sevier’s lawsuit trying to target same-sex marriage by saying he should be allowed to marry his laptop…

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Sevier, here’s an article from last year:

…Sevier has a warrant out for his arrest in Tennessee for failure to appear at criminal contempt proceedings….[arising from failure] to pay child support and violat[ing] a restraining order…[stemming] from Sevier’s 2011 arrest and  conviction for assaulting his father-in-law…Sevier’s baby was also injured in the altercation…Sevier claims that the Human Trafficking Prevention Act was hatched in part due to the horrors he saw as a volunteer in Asian countries, where he was “physically fighting human trafficking” as a rescue worker with an organization called Orphan Secure…[but] the president of Orphan Secure, Ronaldo Lopez…said that Sevier’s time with the group…amounted to a few broken promises…Despite repeatedly claiming he can legally practice law in two states, official records suggest Sevier is not licensed to practice law anywhere…a petition against him for ethical violations was pending in 2011 when the court temporarily inactivated his license based on a mental disability…

Not So Easy (#821)

A deeper look at the sleazy lies politicians are using to destroy women’s jobs:

…The raids seem…connected to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s  new vision of Bourbon Street as a family-friendly tourist destination, a vain attempt to gentrify one of the country’s most legendary red light districts as it approaches its 300th anniversary.  This vision…has the mark of Christian moralizing that has recently taken on new potency.  In October, Mayor Landrieu hired conservative Christian lawyer Scott Bergthold, whose Chattanooga-based law firm has a reputation for targeting strip clubs across the country.  The mayor also appointed a few key people to put together a study on trafficking, including councilperson Kristin Palmer, a longtime opponent of strip clubs; and Jim Kelly of Covenant House, part of a chain of nonprofit, Catholic-affiliated homeless shelters…The Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force says in its official documents that it’s targeting trafficking, but…they use words like prostitution and trafficking interchangeably, and they don’t recognize a categorical difference…[though an attempt at capping the number of strip clubs failed 4-3 in the City Council] clubs…must operate under new regulations.  Dancers are no longer allowed to twerk (defined as a “simulation of sex” per the state lewd act law), fondle their own breasts, or have exposed nipples; these are now defined as “lewd and lascivious conduct.”  Club managers must…post anti-trafficking posters from…Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking (COAST).  COAST is in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security; the posters encourage workers to report abuse to a number which goes directly to ICE…if you’re an undocumented immigrant, there’s no guarantee  your rescue won’t also include deportation

Disaster

Even bootlicking Time seems to grasp that something bad has happened:

…The decision by Craigslist to stop hosting personal ads came as a preemptive move after Congress passed [FOSTA]…a sweeping piece of legislation intended to [harm sex workers]…The legislation targets websites that “promote or facilitate” prostitution, even in jurisdictions where prostitution is legal; individuals operating those sites face up to ten years in prison…The bill’s ambiguous terms threaten to impugn not only Craigslist, but any website or forum that accommodates discussion of the sex trade…these sites are crucial to [sex workers’] safety: they provide the community with a platform to share information about dangerous clientele (known as “bad date lists”) and other occupational hazards.  Advocates for these communities have also argued that eliminating the sex trade’s online presence will in fact make cases of actual human trafficking harder to identify…

Elephant in the Parlor (#825)

I’m proud to see my dear friend Savannah Sly in Teen Vogue, which is turning into an important ally:

…Given how she’s described her situation, it makes sense that Stormy Daniels would sign a nondisclosure agreement…in exchange for $130,000…Many people (particularly sex workers and mothers) may do the same thing in the hopes of making a situation go away.  Also, the odds that a porn star would be believed (or treated with respect) by the public are slim to none.  Society callously condones the slut-shaming, misogyny, and discrimination that sex workers regularly suffer.  Regardless of how we try to sanitize and make palpable our professions, sex workers are seen as irresponsible “sluts” who deserve what we get, even when we’re murdered.  Porn stars, who are some of the most visible sex workers, suffer intense volumes of hate mail, doxing, stalking, and online bullying simply because they’re brazen enough to be publicly and commercially sexual…

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

The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn 

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

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

Pyrrhic Victory

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

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

Under Duress 

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

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

Bogeymen

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

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

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

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere! (#314)

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

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

Bogeymen (#317)

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

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

Torture Chamber

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

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

Business As Usual

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

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

Original Sin (#762) 

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

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

The Puritan Recrudescence (#795)

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

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

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#811) 

SAVE THE TOASTERS!!!!

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

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

Disaster

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

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

Too Close To Home (#823)

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

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

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Forbidding the promotion of prostitution on the Internet…would be “to burn the house to roast the pig.”  –  Alex F. Levy

Unless you were overseas, deeply inebriated or in a coma for the past two days, I’m sure you’ve heard that the massive internet censorship bill known as FOSTA passed the US Senate Wednesday as unanimously as bad laws based on moral panic always do; all it lacks is Trump’s signature to become law, and unless he pulls one of his bizarre reversals that’s pretty much a given.  The law is so blatantly unconstitutional (on several grounds, including flagrant violations of the first and tenth amendments, and article 1’s ban on ex post facto laws) that even the DoJ (which never saw an expansion of federal power it didn’t like) recognizes that, and it will indubitably be challenged as soon as it hits the ground; unless the judge who hears that challenge is some kind of incompetent lunatic he’ll issue an injunction against enforcing it until the case is settled, which could take years.  But that doesn’t mean we can relax; the big businesses which control the internet are so risk-averse many of them are unlikely to wait for the outcome of that ruling, and will simply start pre-emptively censoring sex work content as Reddit already has:

Sometime around 2 a.m. [yesterday], Reddit banned several long-running sex worker forums from the platform.  The move comes just hours after the Senate passed a bill making digital facilitation of prostitution a federal crime.  Under the new law, social media sites and other hubs of user-generated content can be held criminally liable…Even if individuals aren’t targeted by law enforcement for placing ads, and even if individual cases brought by state prosecutors are struck down as unconstitutional, a lot of platforms will preemptively ban anything remotely related to sex work rather than risk it.  So far, four subreddits related to sex have banned:  Escorts, Male Escorts, Hookers, and SugarDaddy. None were what could accurately be described as advertising forums…The escort forums were largely used by sex workers to communicate with one another…

Craigslist followed last night, removing its US personals ad section and posting this apology:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.  Any tool or service can be misused.  We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline.  Hopefully we can bring them back some day.  To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I and many others have explained why this law is so uniquely awful, but let’s just sum it up once more:

  1. It allows US government censorship of the entire internet, destroys social media in all but the most neutered form, and creates a de facto internet cartel controlled entirely by the wealthiest and most powerful media corporations;
  2. It criminalizes all sex work advertising and creates a new federal prostitution crime;
  3. It allows both ambitious DAs and greedy opportunists to attack any internet entity with either criminal charges or civil suits for activity that was perfectly legal when it occurred.

Even if you aren’t a sex worker or civil libertarian, you should be able to see the issues with this, and so should all of the politicians who voted for it, who are guilty of nothing short of criminal incompetence:

Notre Dame law instructor Alex F. Levy:

The law relies on the unsubstantiated idea that reducing prostitution will reduce trafficking.  Indeed, the legislative report defends the regulation by proclaiming, without citation, that “[p]rostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked, and where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery”…But the claim that legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution leads to sex trafficking is widely controverted by scholars…Congress does not even inquire into the basic reliability of the premise that undergirds this sweeping content-based speech restriction…it…restricts Constitutionally protected speech, yet fails under both strict and intermediate scrutiny standards.  It is unconstitutional and should not be passed into law…

Tech law journalist Mike Masnick:

…Senator Richard Blumenthal — who has spent years attacking the internet, and who has already stated that if SESTA kills small internet businesses he would consider that a good thing…sent out a letter…[in which] almost everything stated…is 100% factually wrong…so wrong that it raises serious questions about whether Blumenthal understands some fairly fundamental issues in the bill he’s backing.  Professor Eric Goldman has a pretty concise explanation of everything that’s wrong with the statement, noting that it…shows that SESTA’s main sponsors don’t even understand the very basic aspects of CDA 230…you have to start wondering what the hell is happening in the Senate, and in particular in Senator Blumenthal’s office.  He is not just doing a big thing badly — he is gleefully spouting the exact opposite of basic facts about both the existing law, and the bill he sponsored.  I know that politicians aren’t exactly known for their honesty, but he seems to be taking this to new levels…

Even economist Scott Cunningham, whom I’ve castigated more than once for not grasping basic facts about the demimonde, sure understands this one:

…This bill claims to be all about sex trafficking, but it seems to have a deep ignorance about how these markets work and a deep ignorance about the benefits of these technologies.  The people who support it don’t know about the client screening, they don’t know about the movement indoors and they don’t know that women are using these online platforms in order to avoid danger.  They don’t know or they don’t care…

Though Cunningham is perhaps being cautious and/or polite in his last statement, I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter clause is far more likely than the former.  Don’t you?

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