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Margo might be the single most important sexual liberationist and feminist revolutionary who ever slapped society upside its head.
–  Susie Bright

R.I.P. Margo St. James

The founder of the US sex worker rights movement, Margo St.James, died Tuesday at the age of 83; she had been in an assisted living facility in Bellingham, WA (her home town) for several years now due to dementia, but from the ’70s to the ’90s she was involved to one degree or another in practically every major national and international push for sex worker rights.  It’s impossible to overstate her importance to sex workers all over the world; you may get some idea of why by reading this essay I published on her almost eight years ago, and more in the linked obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle.  But so many 20th-century activists knew and loved her, there will no doubt be many articles and memories; I’m going to link every single one that comes to my attention over the next several weeks.  Farewell, Margo; not a one of us could have done it without your amazing example.

Dysphemisms Galore 

“The pimps who sell sex” may be one of the most clueless headlines ever:

Two…Southend [politicians bloviated about]…street prostitution…[with a plethora of ridiculous terms and phrases] in[cluding]…notorious hotspot…emotional effects of prostitution…“sexual harm”…urgent action to finally get street prostitution under control…“The psychological impacts of [consensual adult] sex are immense”…[they also bloviated about “the dangerous cycle of prostitution”]…high levels of anti-social behaviour…pimping…drug-dealing, hazardous litter and noise nuisance….end the harms caused by…sex…sexual exploitation and a form of violence against women and girls…trauma-informed support…and holding organisations [who actually assist sex workers] to account

I can’t help imagining these politicians wanking furiously while vomiting out these sexual fantasies.

Traffic Jam (#443)

This isn’t a “documentary”; the only thing it “documents” is Jones’ creepy fantasies about other women’s lives:

Sarah Jones is about to [present her ugly fantasies about] the sex industry…[in what she claims is a] documentary [even though it’s merely an expanded adaptation of her one-prohibitionist propaganda vehicle] Sell/Buy/Date…[s]he [dazzled a Deadline reporter with meaningless wokespeak about “]how the sex industry sits at the intersection of race, feminism, power and economics in our current cultural climate[” and dropped three big Hollywood names as executive producers:] Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep and Laverne Cox…[other idiotic belching included] “Is sex work exploitative or empowering?” [and “]The sex industry is hiding everywhere in plain sight during the pandemic[“]…

To her credit, Cox listened to sex workers’ complaints about this revolting propaganda (click on the subtitle link for a description) and has already withdrawn her support. The same cannot be said for the clueless Streep, and Rashida Jones is prohibitionist trash with a long history of endangering marginalized women with her videotaped hatespew.

The Prudish Giant (#897) 

It usually starts with sex workers, but it never stops with us:

When [Facebook-owned] Instagram introduced [censorship] guidelines aimed at stopping “sexual solicitation” in December, sex workers were the first to raise the alarm…But [of course they] aren’t the only ones with cause for anxiety.  A whole swathe of sex-related accounts, including those of certified sex educators and sexual wellness brands, are now being [censored]…sex educators [who couldn’t be bothered to stand with sex worksers now realize] censorship on Instagram has gone too far, with some calling it an all-out ban on sex

Pyrrhic Victory (#1030)

Useful idiots destroying any possibility that the facial recognition djinni can ever be rebottled:

After the Capitol riot, Clearview AI…has seen a spike in use…The F.B.I. has posted the faces of dozens of [rioters] and has requested assistance identifying them…Clearview, which is used by over 2,400 [cop shops to violate citizens’ privacy]…relies…on a database of more than 3 billion photos [stolen] from social media networks and other public websites…

Social Distancing (#1080)

I’m sure you feel safer now:

…a…woman [was brutalized and abducted] by four [costumed thugs for] sitting on a bench.  [Video shows] the woman…protesting…”I was sitting on a bench” as she is surrounded by [pigs]…in Bournemouth, Dorset…A furious woman filming the…disgrace…shout[ed] at [pigs]: “What side are you on?”…

Between the Ears (#1081)

“Smart” devices are not, part umpteen:

A hacker took control of people’s internet-connected chastity cages and demanded a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin to unlock it…a security researcher [who] goes by the name Smelly…obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims…he…demand[ed] a payment of 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) to unlock the device…These hacks show once again that just because you can connect something to the internet, it doesn’t mean you have to…It’s incidents like these that make some people think the Internet of Things is just a marketing term for the Internet of Hackable Things, as we call it, or even the Internet of Shit, as others call it.  Qiui, the Chin[ese] manufacturer of the device…did not respond to a request for comment…

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When I agreed to be a representative, I don’t recall signing off on any moralistic fitness test.  –  Diego Rodriguez

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

Eight [cops] are under investigation [for] a…[sexual] assault on a [young] black [woman using the pretext of a]…strip-search…Footage surfaced on social media showing the [cops brutally kneeling on her back while]…she was…[gasp]ing “I can’t breathe”…she was in her friend’s car when [cops] pulled over the vehicle and dragged her into the street…she told BBC Newsnight…“They…picked me up with my…braids which they eventually tore out of my scalp”…The [cops abducted]…her…to…Lewisham Police station[, where they] charged her with obstructing [her own sexual assault]…but this was later dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service…[at the station] she was s[exually] assaulted again [under the pretext of a second “search”]…

Gullible’s Travels

Americans will believe basically any scaremongering about teens:

Skittle parties are…happening in places like people’s homes, backyards, parks, abandoned buildings, hotel rooms and who knows where else…kids raid medicine cabinets at home for prescription medications.  They bring whatever they can find to the party and all pills are dumped into a bowl…Anyone can take whatever pills they want and however many they want in order to get high…Jack Schafer…wrote several columns for Slate from…2006 to…2010 [explain]ing that these parties are just a myth that has been perpetuated by the media.  And…[there is no] actual evidence of them existing…[but] regardless of whether Skittle parties are a real thing or not, [the yellow journalists at Yahoo feel justified in declaring that they are]…very real…

Elephant in the Parlor (#341)

A new level of public support for sex workers from a politician:

…[Arizona politician] Diego Rodriguez…has a history of liking or replying to posts of nude women on [Twitter]…using a separate account from one he operates as a state [representative]..[and] has no plans to remove or hide the posts from the public.  “I think that goes back to a difference in attitudes,” he said. “Are you…sex positive or sex negative?”…Rodriguez pointed out past tweets in support of sex workers’ rights.  Sweeping his past under the rug would only further stigmatize an industry he says is unfairly maligned and mistreated…

Torture Chamber (#866) 

Oh look, the State has finally “found” what thousands have been telling them for decades:

The largest women’s prison in the country subjects incarcerated women to pervasive and frequent [rapes and other] sexual assaults, violating their Eighth Amendment rights, the Justice Department concluded in a scathing and graphic report…[after] a two-year investigation…into…Lowell [Rape Camp in]…Florida…[besides oral, anal and vaginal rape] and groping…”staff demanded that prisoners undress in front of them, sometimes in exchange for basic necessities, such as toilet paper.”  Furthermore…investigators found that the prison had [criminally] inadequate measures to prevent sexual abuse…staff exploited blind spots in surveillance camera coverage to abuse women; the prison deterred women from reporting abuse via threats of retaliation and…solitary confinement “for days or weeks at a time;” and the…[so-called] Investigator General [arbitraily] closed, suspended, or indefinitely delayed investigations…In [one typical and representative attack in] March 2018, a Lowell s[crew]…anally raped a…prisoner in a storage area…then…wiped himself off on [her underwear]…[the victim suffered] extensive…in[juries but]…no DNA evidence was collected…[and] the…rap[ist was allowed to quiet]ly resign [without consequences]…

Dirty Laundry (#868)

Horrifyingly-abusive nuns are not restricted to Ireland:

Catholic nuns running a children’s home in Germany pimped out boys to priests, politicians and businessmen who would rape the children at sex parties, according to a victim who has won a compensation battle…the man, now 63…said he was raped around 1,000 times…in the 1960s and 70s, alongside [at least]…three [o]ther victims [who] have since come forward…If they disobeyed they would be beaten with sticks or have their heads smashed against the wall…The children’s home was shut in 2000…The Catholic Church paid the man 15,000 euros in compensation and 10,000 euros for therapy costs alongside a victim’s pension…

Guinea Pigs (#970)

Facebook policies prohibit the creation of predatory accounts by law enforcement, but pigs make them anyway and Facebook does nothing:

For the past two years, Do Nguyen Mai Khoi…the Vietnamese singer and pro-democracy activist, known best simply as Mai Khoi, has tried tirelessly to warn [Facebook] of a thousands-strong pro-government…group of police, military, and other Communist party loyalists who collaborate to get online dissidents booted and offline dissidents jailed.  Her evidence of the group’s activity is ample, her arguments are clear, and…Facebook doesn’t seem interested at all…social media allows [Vietnamese] citizens to squeeze past the state’s censorship stranglehold on traditional media, [but Facebook] has…become just another means of strangulation.  Private groups filled with government partisans coordinate takedown campaigns — or worse — against any views deemed “reactionary” by the Vietnamese state, while Facebook continues to do little but pay lip service to ideals of free expression…

A Broker in Pillage (#1043)

Nobody will be safe until this odious, contemptible practice is recognized as unconstitutional:

…Since 2014…35 states and the District of Columbia have enacted civil forfeiture reforms, including two—New Mexico and Nebraska—that have abolished the practice…The manifest injustice of [legalized robbery of innocent people]…led to modest federal reforms in 2000, then not much else.  But…interest in the issue has exploded in recent years…as…politicians became newly aware of [the] problem…and why they decided to do something about it, despite the dogged resistance of police and prosecutors keen to keep the money train rolling.  The story varies from one state to another, but it generally involves a combination of outrageous injustices, corruption scandals, and rising disgust at the unseemly greed that leads cops to steal TV sets and snatch money from children’s birthday cards…

Social Distancing (#1082)

A study trashes one of the justifications for ruinous authoritarian “lockdowns”:

…The initial round of lockdowns was not about suppressing the virus but slowing it for one reason: to preserve hospital capacity…Gradually…curve flattening became an end in itself, apart from hospital capacity…Sometime in summer, the idea of asymptomatic spread started to trend…we were being asked to think of our fellow citizens not as human beings with dignity and rights but pathogen-carrying disease vectors…because we are secretly filthy and unclean…even with a mask we must stay 6 feet away….But…a gigantic study conducted in Wuhan, China, of 10 million people…published November 20…revealed something that hardly ever happens in these kinds of studies.  There was not one documented case.  Forget rare…Replace…that with: never.  At least not in this study for 10,000,000…We keep hearing about how we should follow the science…[but] the lockdown lobby ignores whatever contradicts their narrative, preferring unverified anecdotes over an actual scientific study of 10 million residents in what was the world’s first major hotspot for the disease we are trying to manage…

Winding Down

A long-overdue move by Mexico to throw off US domination:

On December 15, Mexic[an] lawmakers passed a law reining in the asymmetrical, imperialist influence of the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration within the country.  Supporters hailed the move as a reclamation of national sovereignty…the new law…[defines DEA thugs as] “foreign agents”, which…limits their activities in the country to information-gathering, eliminates their legal immunity and assigns them reporting obligations.  Agents will no longer be able to unilaterally execute arrests and raids, and will have to seek authorization from the Mexican federal government for their weapons.  Permission from a newly formed security panel is also now required of any Mexican state or municipal official meeting with them…Drug warriors invested in the global dominance of the DEA have denounced the legislation…

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Think of the ramifications…if everyone who searched something…was subject to interviews by federal agents.  –  Todd Spodek

To Molest and Rape

Given that the badge is a weapon, most rape by cops is “on duty”:

Purcell [Oklahoma cop]…Jason Baca [raped a] woman…in [August and was rewarded with a]…paid [vacation until] an arrest warrant was [finally] issued [on October 7th] and he turned himself in at the [jail]…

Served Cold (#797) 

This megalomaniac’s antics have grown so bizarre even prohibitionists can no longer ignore it:

A Utah prosecutor is investigating Operation Underground Railroad – one of the best-known organizations [profiting from hysteria over] human trafficking.  Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings…[declined to] specif[y] why O.U.R…is under investigation.  However, in recent posts to his Instagram account, Rawlings implied a local nonprofit was conducting illegal fundraising efforts by taking credit for arrests made by [cops]…Rawlings suggested some witnesses have been hindered by nondisclosure agreements…“Just because someone claims they are called of God when asking for your money does not necessarily mean they actually are.”  Rawlings ended that post with the hashtags: “#fraud #scam #crime.”  In a later post, Rawlings included copies of Utah’s statutes against communications fraud and witness tampering…

I Spy (#930)

Curiosity offends the state, comrade:

…Google has provided police information on users based on keyword searches….[pigs demanded] the company…disclose the IP addresses of everyone who had looked up words relevant to their [snooping, rooting and prying]…The troubling practice came to light when police in Florida investigated an incident where a woman who had accused singer R. Kelly of sexual assault had her car vandalized outside her home…police “sent a search warrant to Google that requested information on users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1060) 

Illinois readers can get $400 from the copZucker:

Facebook users in Illinois can now apply to collect from a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit…filed over Facebook’s collection and storing of biometric data…without…consent.  As part of the $650 million settlement, claimants may be eligible for payments of between $200-$400, depending on the number of valid claims filed…by…users…for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011…Claimants must have been a resident of Illinois for at least 183 days (six months) to be eligible.  Claims must be filed by November 23, 2020…

You Were Warned (#1073)

Congress won’t stop until it controls the internet:

U.S. [politicians]—who have been tossing whatever claims of bad deeds they can at Big Tech for a good while—are now angling for antitrust law changes that they say are necessary to [control] Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google…the House…antitrust committee put out a 450-page report on the subject…result[ing from] a 16-month-long investigation [during which]…representatives barraged the CEOs of all four companies with inane and irrelevant questions in a public hearing…There’s scant evidence of elements…necessary for an antitrust violation…[so] the…report calls for “for sweeping changes to federal laws so that government regulators can [control] Silicon Valley”…The whole thing has followed the bipartisan playbook previously in use with Backpage and Craigslist…That is: Pick the biggest examples of a tech company or phenomenon that the government wants to curb or stop, subpoena a bazillion internal documents under some trumped-up pretense of criminal activity, and go fishing for something that can be spun into a call for congressional action…changing the underpinnings of internet and business and speech law in a way more friendly to federal control

The Widening Gyre (#1078)

The hysteria over Cuties keeps growing:

Netflix is now facing felony charges for Cuties, as [hysteria over]…the…film [spins out of control]…A Tyler County, Texas, grand jury indicted the streaming giant…for promoting…material that “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child…younger than 18 years of age” for the “prurient interest in sex.”  The document also [pretends] that the film held no serious “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”…[meanwhile, Utah politician] Mike Lee…said…he was “unsatisfied” with Netflix’s response to his letter [demanding censorship]…of the film [on his say-so]…

Social Distancing (#1081)

Are physicians finally standing up to authoritarian ideas about public health?

The World Health Organisation [i]s…calling for world [politicians] to stop locking down their countries and economies.  Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO…[told politicians] to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method…Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer…The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it…It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year.  We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition”…

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The censor-morons are loose, and they’re attacking the small targets so their totalitarian masters can expend their energy on big ones like the internet.  –  “The Return of the Censor

Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.  From the most totalitarian of governments down to the youngest of adults, it seems everybody without a functional moral compass (which is to say, the great majority) wants to impose their ideas of “right” thinking and “correct” speech on everyone else.  China, of course, is leading the way, with a new Maoist-type campaign to purge schools and libraries of books deemed insufficiently pure, but the West isn’t far behind.  In the UK, cops are knocking on doors to intimidate people who made statements online that the cops didn’t like, and early this month a woman in Melbourne was actually arrested for posting on Facebook about a protest against totalitarian “lockdown” orders imposed by the Victorian government.  In the US, the pandemic is only one of many popular excuses for censorship; others include “hate speech”, criticizing the police, and (for social media platforms) either engaging in censorship on their own or not censoring often enough for the tastes of censors.  I know that last is confusing, so let me state it a different way:  Some politicians and other control freaks want to censor Facebook, Twitter, et al for engaging in censorship themselves, while others want to censor the same entities for not censoring enough.  Yes, it’s complete lunacy, and it isn’t limited to the internet; culture warriors in academia, Hollywood, and even corporate America are firing,expelling, or otherwise ostracizing people for engaging in wrongthink, or even for failing to chant approved party slogans with sufficient enthusiasm.

When I was a librarian, Banned Books Week was little more than an academic exercise; censorship was an intermittent and generally impotent threat proceeding from small numbers of narrow-minded busybodies, which was easily defeated by librarians and other guardians of our shared cultural heritage.  But that was a generation ago, and would-be censors have become numerous, aggressive, well-organized and (most concerningly) popular.  Few of those under 30 even understand what free speech is or why it’s important, and the majority or those over that age imagine all sorts of exceptions that they believe should be reasons to violently suppress speech, ranging from “it hurt my feelings”, to “it was said or written by a dead person who did things considered normal then, but which are now mortal sins”, to “it contains ‘bad’ words”, to the ever-popular “But SEX!”  As I wrote last year, the censor-morons (a term coined by D.H. Lawrence, one of many writers now considered “problematic”) are loose; furthermore, they are multiplying like bacteria and have already infested all the centers of power.  For now, the courts are mostly still defending the rights of those with enough money, resources, and patience to fight “cancellation” through official channels.  But if you will take the time to read all of my essays for this occasion starting in 2012, and working your way up a year at a time to the present, I think you’ll see a very frightening trend.  We are watching the advent of a new dark age, and in such times no light is entirely safe from being snuffed out by zealots, speech-cops and bureaucrats whose ideal model for human society is the anthill.

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More than eight and a half years ago I predicted that when the end of “sex trafficking” hysteria came, it would not simply fade away, but rather violently implode.  A year later I described it this way:

…This doesn’t mean that things will get steadily better…in fact, they may get worse in some ways…In “The Widening Gyre” I referred to the “trafficking” myth as “an increasingly-erratic cultural meme spinning wildly out of control, whose far-flung debris is going to cause a lot more damage before it finally disintegrates”, and…[in] this last and most dangerous phase we should expect to see a lot more people hurt…Because it’s a useful tool of social control and a versatile excuse for tyranny, governments (especially the US government) will work hard and invest huge sums to continue the panic well beyond the time when it would have died naturally; that, however, can only work for so long, and once the edifice of prohibition starts to collapse the US will no more be able to halt the process than the communists could stop the destruction of the Berlin Wall…

As it turned out, government and private funds were able to extend the lifespan of the panic by about three or four years, and it was their own overconfidence that eventually triggered the death-spiral:

…the hubris of those who yearn for power over others above all else undermined their own plans; in the spring of [2018] power-drunk US politicians tried to use the hysteria to achieve their long-desired goal of control over the internet, and the result of that power grab – the massive internet-censorship bill called FOSTA – badly backfired, galvanizing sex worker activism so powerfully that neither the media nor up-and-coming politicians could ignore it any longer…sex workers who once preferred to remain silent have become extremely vocalacademics in many fields are urging decriminalization…and the broken-down Hollywood celebrities who champion police violence against women are increasingly finding themselves ignored or even publicly mocked for their cluelessness.  “Feminist” anti-sex rhetoric is finally being recognized as the puritanical garbage it always has been, and the hysteria, as I predicted it would long ago, is rapidly approaching the point of implosion

Less than three months after I published that came the plague, and as their funds started to dry up prohibitionists began to lose their shit, desperately attempting to somehow tie the pandemic into their profitable wanking fantasy.  But what not even Cassandra McNeill could predict was that the process of collapse would be accelerated by the most unlikely of unwilling and inadvertent allies, the Trumpaloons.  And the schadenfreude is so sweet, it almost hurts my teeth:

…the…#SaveTheChildren…hashtag [has been] trending…[thanks to] followers of QAnon, the sprawling pro-Trump conspiracy theory…[combining prohibitionist fantasies about] human trafficking…with…[inconvenient-to-prohibitionists fantasies about] a global conspiracy involving a ring of Satan-worshiping, child-molesting criminals led by…Hillary Clinton…[who] are kidnapping and eating children…in order to harvest a life-extending chemical from their blood…[unlike “]legitimate[” propaganda which claims sex workers and brown people are]…doing the [imaginary] trafficking[, QAnon cultists claim it’s] a cabal of nefarious elites that includes Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Pope Francisthe…[recent nonsense] about…Wayfair…trafficking children under the guise of selling expensive cabinets…went viral…in [part thanks to QAnon followers]…and…In recent weeks, Facebook engagement on human-trafficking-related content has surged…Even the Trump campaign has begun sharing more anti-trafficking content to its millions of Facebook and Twitter followers.  The QAnon strategy of pushing some [politically-approved prohibitionist nonsense]…in addition to [inconvenient, unprofitable] conspiracy theories has [forced the rescue industry and anti-sex media to attempt to draw arbitrary] lines between [so-called] legitimate anti-trafficking activism and…[inconvenient, unprofitable] conspiracy mongering.  Recently…QAnon believers [are even infiltrating pro-police state “awareness raising” events], toting signs with messages like “Hollywood Eats Babies”…Tim Ballard, the [pro-Trump] founder of the [dangerously deranged, violently racist] group Operation Underground Railroad, see an opportunity to reach a new, hyper-engaged online audience…Other…[rescue industry profiteer]s worry that QAnon will divert valuable resources from [established, well-connected] groups trying to stop [sex work and censor the internet]…After the Wayfair incident, the Polaris Project…issued a news release saying its hotline had been overwhelmed with…reports…it…[couldn’t] spin [for its own profit]…longtime anti-[sex] activists…[a]re alarmed by QAnon’s recent incursion onto their turf.  They ha[ve] worked for years to [invent and disseminate] fa[ntasies] about child trafficking, only to see them [hijacked] by [a rival gang of] partisan opportunists.  And they worr[y] that…QAnon belie[fs are so bizarre they] could undermine the [rescue industry]’s bipartisan credibility…


I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to watch the New York Times forced to debunk the prohibitionist propaganda it has eagerly promoted for almost 17 years.  As in tales of black magic, the “sex trafficking” fetishists, propagandists, and profiteers have lost control of the evil forces they unleashed under the delusion that they could control them, and now those forces are threatening them as well.  If this keeps up – and I fervently hope it does – the media and political opportunists are going to have to choose who they hate more:  sex workers and our clients, or Donald Trump and his horde of idiots.

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Do you have any idea why some people’s Twitter follower count either stays the same or slowly drops?  Mine used to climb pretty steadily, but lately I’m losing followers even though I’m not doing anything different.

Most internet companies are more subtle than censorship-happy Facebook, which openly and proudly censors posts and bans users using a set of “community standards” so bluenosed they’d make a Puritan swoon.  Google is only slightly less censorious, using secret algorithms to monkey with search results in order to boost its advertisers and “de-weight” any site containing “adult content” (which is why my traffic to this blog from Google is only about 1/6 what it was seven years ago); it also “demonetizes” videos on YouTube (ie, makes them ineligible for moneymaking ads) using similar esoteric criteria.  Twitter, by contrast, likes to represent itself as the most free-speech-friendly of the social media sites, and to a degree that’s no empty pose; it’s the only one left which still allows (some) nudity, frank sexual discussion, and the open presence of sex workers.  But behind the scenes it still has a number of secret mechanisms, most of which it denies the existence of, that are intended to push nasty, dirty, sex into the shadows to make room for nice, fully-clothed bigots.  One of those is the shadowban, a blanket term for a number of occlusions which can be secretly installed by the corporation on the accounts of (mostly but not only) sex workers so as to make their accounts much harder for new readers to find while allowing them to appear normally to those who already follow them:  Twitter used to deny that there was such a thing as a shadowban, but as of January 1st its TOS states that it “reserves the right to limit distribution or visibility of content”, IOW to shadowban users.  But what you’re describing is different.  According to the shadowban checker I linked above, I’m not shadowbanned; yet my follower count, which used to increase by hundreds every month, has now been static for over two years.  I get at least 10-20 new followers every day, yet my count just bobs gently back and forth like a buoy on a calm sea, as though something were draining away followers at the same rate I gained them.  Then since about April, I’ve been slowly losing followers; it’s very gradual, about 220 followers so far, yet I’m still gaining a dozen to a score new followers evey day.  The only thing I can figure is that this is part of their anti-bot campaign; apparently, the site is methodically checking every account over time, and when an account trips some condition that Twitter has decided makes it “suspicious”, that account is either closed entirely or at least “disqualified” as a follower.  I know I’ve had a number of people tell me that Twitter has “unfollowed” me for them without their permission, such that they wondered if I had left the site until they saw someone else retweet me; I suspect a lot of the lost followers are due to a similar process.  But riddle me this:  if it’s an innocent by-product of that kind of routine site cleaning, why are all the people who have noticed it either “adult” or otherwise “controversial”?

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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[US police] violence appears so widespread and consistent that you could…think…it’s coordinated at a national level.  –  T.C. Sottek

The Widening Gyre (#864)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the “scrap paper” variant of the “sex traffickers marking cars” scary tale:

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety said…post-it notes left on various cars throughout Lubbock were…not sex trafficking ploys…Lubbock Police…looked into the matter and found that the numbers were, in fact, from a legitimate hail damage repair company…three Facebook posts claiming the notes were sex trafficking ploys…had been shared over 3,000 times…

Hail causes sex trafficking!

You Were Warned (#926)

Australian politicians are just as invested in demolishing the internet as US ones:

…The Court of Appeal for New South Wales has just dismissed an attempt by several Australian media outlets to overturn a 2019 ruling that they could be held liable for Facebook comments about [the state torture of a young man named] Dylan Voller…Voller…sued some of the media outlets that covered him—not because the news reports defamed him, but because other people writing on the outlets’ Facebook pages were accusing him of having committed various crimes.  Australian courts have not yet ruled on whether these comments defamed Voller.  This fight is about whether media outlets could even be sued for Facebook comments.  The outlets argue that…Facebook does not let them preemptively stop individual readers from posting comments on their page.  They do have the option to delete, hide, or report individual comments, but only after they’ve been posted…But the fact that these outlets have the ability to delete comments after the fact was enough for Judge John Basten to declare them publishers…Another judge suggested that a potential solution would be…censor[ing] content…If this ruling stands, it’s going to force Australian media outlets to monitor all comments and beef up their social media teams at a time when they’re having to lay off staff and even shut down newspapers

Censor Chic (#948)

It’s so convenient to outsource tyranny to computers:

…certain combinations of Chinese characters have been immediately removed from [YouTube] within a few short seconds…[without] warning or reason…The Hanzi Which Shall Not Be Named were merely 共匪  (“communist bandit”) and 五毛 (“fifty cents”)…the term 共匪…was used by Nationalist partisans led by…Chiang Kai-shek against…Mao Zedong and the reds.  Today, it is considered a slur against the CCP…五毛 is a cleverer anti-CCP troll.  It’s basically calling a pro-CCP commenter a paid shill, albeit a cheap one.  The joke is that human CCP NPCs get paid fifty cents for each pro-CCP post; ergo, the “fifty-cent army” or 五毛党…those terms would not disappear from YouTube comments if you typed them out in English or in Pinyin…only…in the original Hanzi…YouTube is already banned in China and can be a pain to access without a good VPN and strong desire to do so…We are asked to believe that YouTube’s pesky algorithm just happened to accidentally disappear these very particular Chinese anti-government phrases since at least October of 2019…Perhaps the fifty-cent army flagged these phrases enough to become automatic triggers that the algorithm would automatically pull.  But it is also possible that someone at YouTube manually added these terms to a blocklist…Pressure from politicians of both parties contributed to Google winding down its proposed “Dragonfly” Chinese search engine that would have been compliant with CCP censorship demands…

Panopticon (#1007)

FWIW, the DEA mostly conducts old-fashioned Stasi-type surveillance:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd…Attorney General William Barr issued a statement…blam[ing the protests on]…“anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics”…He said the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law.”  Barr did not say what those agencies would do, however…

Panopticon (#1030)

Pigs now routinely use spy drones for surveillance :

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is regularly flying Predator drones…above American cities for surveillance.  This includes cities farther than 100 miles from the border…In two instances last month, CBP…flew [a drone] either close to or directly above Minneapolis…[another] recently flew around half a dozen times above or near San Antonio, Texas, which is also outside the 100 mile border region.  In some cases the Predator drones circled above the cities for an extended period of time…

Social Distancing (#1041)

Australian sex workers are challenging crypto-moralism:

Sex workers in Australia could operate under a COVID-19-safe framework…according to the adults-only industry association.  The industry has been crippled by bans in all states and territories during the…pandemic.  As other industries are included in road maps for restarting, only the Northern Territory has given clear advice to sex workers on when they can return to work.  In a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt…the Eros Association expressed concern that shutting down the sex industry was being “motivated by moral judgments…rather than any justified concerns regarding public health…strip clubs, escort agencies and brothels should be allowed to operate (with appropriate restrictions) at the same stage as other body work practitioners such as massage therapists…Attached to the letter were proposed guidelines for restarting the industry…

But for Video

Just a few choice selections of police brutality from the past week:

…A New York City [cop] tore a protective mask off of a young black man and assaulted him with pepper spray…New York City [cops]…rammed a crowd in a street…[cops] in Minneapolis marched down a quiet residential street and shot paint canisters at residents who were watching from their private porch…Police in Louisville raided a public square, [stealing] and destroying water and milk…used to counter irritants like pepper spray…Atlanta police [shot] two black people…with tasers and t[ore] them out of their car…A New York City [cop] used two hands to throw a woman to the ground…San Antonio Police used tear gas against people. So did Dallas policeSo did Los Angeles policeSo did DC police. The list goes on…A freelance photographer in Minneapolis…went permanently blind in her left eye after being [intentionally] shot [in the face with a rubber bullet at close range]…

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Government needs to back off…[Christian] moral…judgments…when it comes to women’s work.  –  Leah LaGrone

Where Are the Victims?

Does this fit your idea of what “sex trafficking” is?

The owner of The Salt City Inn…Rezvan “Ray” Saisani, and the inn’s manager…Sameer Syed, are both facing numerous felony charges related to using the motel to run [what pigs and prosecutors fantasize was] a sex trafficking operation…Saisani and Syed would…charg[e clients a] $10 [incall fee]…[and] rent…rooms to…sex workers in exchange for sexual favors…Saisani and Syed would not charge them upfront for the room, knowing they would make money by using the room for sex work and would be able to pay later…

Bait and Switch

When cops call other people “predators”, refer to the original of this title:

[Virginia cops fantasy role-played as women interested in ageplay in order to entrap]…30 men…during [a cop fantasy-fest absurdly labeled] Operation COVID Crackdown[predictably, most of] the men [targeted for this “operation” were racial minorities, as is typical in cop “stings”]…

All-Purpose Excuse

With their anti-whore schtick failing, the rescue industry is desperate to find new things they can call “human trafficking”:

Buyers of [wooden] products…may unknowingly be financing organized crime gangs, human trafficking and deforestation in an industry tainted by illegal logging, [profiteers claim]…Criminal groups are increasingly involved in the illegal timber trade in the [Mexican] state of Chihuahua which borders the United States, according to [claims] by [a group alling itself] the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime…Diana Siller, director of the…profit[eer] group Jade [shouted]…”The…children[!]”…

Social Distancing

Cassandra wishes to share this with you:

…Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts…Five key facts are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.  Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19.  The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent…Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding…Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem…Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections…Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures.  The overwhelming evidence…consistently shows that a clearly defined group — older people and others with underlying conditions — is more likely to have a serious illness requiring hospitalization and more likely to die from COVID-19…it is a commonsense, achievable goal to target isolation policy to that group, including strictly monitoring those who interact with them…

I Spy (#1029)

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

…public health [commissars] desperately want the ability to track people’s movements to [see if the proles are obeying] social-distancing [diktats] and also to trace contacts between people who carry the disease and [non-consenting] members of the public they [contact]…cellphone tracking…promises to fulfill every Big Brother-ish fear privacy advocates have ever raised.  “When California officials…tapped…Facebook [to] provide…location coordinates of tens of millions of smartphones [without their owners’ knowledge or permission]…show[ing]…that large numbers of people were still [visit]ing…beaches and in public parks.  So…Gov. Gavin Newsom…ordered them closed to vehicles, sharply restricting…people’s…ability to escape to the healthy outdoors

Social Distancing (#1032)

Op-eds like this have become very common since FOSTA:

…businesses that provide “live or recorded performances” or “receive more than 5 percent of [their] gross revenue” from the sale of products with any depictions of a “prurient nature” are ineligible for [pandemic loans].  Owners of clubs and other small businesses may file lawsuits over their exclusion, but it is the women carrying the industry who will suffer.  Though…sex [workers]…can still file for aid through unemployment and possibly receive the $1,200 stimulus checks given to millions of Americans, they are ineligible for the…far larger [SBA] loans…When the government excludes the sex industry from economic help, it is because it considers this work immoral, a judgment that devalues women’s labor and sex work more broadly.  Treating the sex industry as illicit reinforces flawed moral judgments and makes workers in this industry, especially women, particularly vulnerable…

Like Houses (#1034)

If you didn’t expect the pandemic to be used as an excuse for censorship, you are hopelessly naive:

It has been six weeks since…[cops murdered] 21-year-old Duncan Lemp in a 4:30 a.m. raid at his family’s home in Potomac, Maryland, an affluent and sedate suburb of Washington, D.C.  Montgomery County Police have thus far refused to provide any e[xcuse for murdering] Lemp.  But a county prosecutor leaped to action…[by] threatening any Lemp family members who attend a protest over his killing with a $5000 fine and a year in jail…[using the excuse of]…Maryland’s strict stay-at-home [diktat]…

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Curfew and quarantine enforcement inevitably mean new opportunities for police overreach, profiling, and violence.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Above the Law 

Even rent-a-cops feel entitled to rape sex workers:

A hospital security guard has been jailed for 14 years for the rape and violent assault of two sex workers…one of the victims was forced to jump naked from a window to get away from Noel McKeon…as he tried to stab her. The attacks, on June 18, 2016 and on February 2, 2018, both took place after McKeon contacted the two women [for outcall]…

Monsters

What a sick, sorry waste:

Timothy Blancher, 20, Alunte Davis, 21, and Paris Cameron, 20, all attended a party with a 19-year-old man they met at a gas station in Detroit.  Hours after he left the group, Devon Robinson, 19, burst into the house wearing a masked and…gunn[ed] the three…down…Jurors found Robinson guilty Tuesday of the May 25, 2019, murders…committed…to cover up…that he had engaged in sex…with the three victims…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#802) 

Predictable in the current Neo-Victorian climate:

Playboy has announced that it’s closing down its flagship magazine for the rest of 2020.  It seems unlikely, given the wording of the announcement and the state of print magazine-making, that it will ever return.  It’s not a surprise, exactly — its circulation and advertising drooped long ago, accelerating as the nudie pictures for which it was celebrated became available everywhere for free…

The Widening Gyre (#866)

This won’t end until it starts inconveniencing the wealthy & well-connected:

…Oprah Winfrey’s name…trend[ed on Twitter after]…a series of tweets…alleged that the celebrity’s Florida home had been raided by police, who were “digging up the tunnels” there in connection with an alleged sex trafficking ring.  (…Oprah has no home in Florida)…the tweets put forth theories:  some noting the friendship Oprah enjoyed with Harvey Weinstein, others suggesting the novel coronavirus epidemic was somehow engineered to shift the spotlight away from the arrest of celebrities involved in the alleged ring…includ[ing] Tom Hanks and Justin Trudeau…

Wise Investment (#920)

Sex workers, clients & everyone else harmed by “prostitution stings” needs to keep suing over them:

From January through March [of last year], at least four men responded to online ads f[rom a pervert cop fantasy role-playing as] a [sex worker] named “Brittany” who…asked each of the four men to meet [him] at a hotel, but first to stop at a gas station before to buy [him] a treat such as a candy bar or a can of pop…Cases against them were dismissed, first by a district court, and then by a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals…[because] the [prosecutor] charged the[m]…with…soliciting prostitution….[which] has to come in a “public place”…cops and…prosectors…didn’t prove any of these men was in [public] when they texted [the masturbating cop.  Though]…the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office [vomited a lot of disgusting nonsense about]…human-trafficking…[all over the court, it still]…rul[ed that]…there’s no evidence indicating [the cop was fantasizing he] was underage, or a victim of trafficking, [while msturbating, and] the…language on gross misdemeanor solicitation is plain, and applies only to “public” acts…

You Were Warned

A reminder of what the government is trying to take away from you:

It’s almost hard to believe now, but there was time when Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of “participatory media” were widely heralded as great gifts to public perception and global democracy.  For going on nearly half a decade now, the tone on tech companies and social media has shifted to one of suspicion, hostility, grievance, and moral panic.  But as COVID-19 continues to spread around the world and as many governments continue to mishandle things, people are starting to remember why the platforms we love to hate are important after all…Social media have also been providing news from early outbreak zones across the globe, as users widely disseminate stories from foreign news outlets, statements from foreign leaders, and first-hand accounts from residents of affected areas abroad.  These snapshots helped give Americans a better sense of the scope of the threat posed by COVID-19 at a time when the messages coming from official channels were conflicting and confusing…

Social Distancing

As always, sex workers demonstrate our adaptability:

Portland will not go without its strippers, even during a…pandemic.  Lucky Devil Lounge is bringing its dancers to your door with a new food delivery service it’s calling—wait for it—”Boober Eats”.  “I originally did it at first as a joke,” says club owner Shon Boulden, “and it got 150 shares on Facebook—like nothing we’ve ever had before.  So I was like, ‘Well shit, why don’t we just try to do this?'”  Lucky Devil has a full food menu and non-alcoholic drinks, like ginger beer and Red Bull, available for delivery.  The process is similar to many the home drop-off systems that have sprung up overnight as a way for restaurants and breweries to continue operating…Simply peruse the menu online, give the business a call and place your order….[but] instead of being greeted a harried driver in jeans and a hoodie, your meal is hand-delivered by two dancers.  “They’ll wear pasties and booty shorts, drop off the food, dance for a second and then we’ll move along,” Boulden says.  “We’ll still stay a reasonable distance back.  They have Lysol as well”…the strippers will also pose for photos…

Meanwhile, in porn:

Free Speech Coalition…called for a voluntary shutdown of all adult entertainment productions in the United States and Canada through Tuesday, March 31…”we ask that producers cancel all shoots through March 31, and recommend that performers immediately stop filming with partners who are not a part of their household”…

The Public Eye (#1022)

Prohibitionist whining is becoming increasingly desperate:

The MTA [was paid to] display…a series of advertisements promoting a “Sex Workers Pop-up” exhibit…[prohibitionists moronically labeled the text-only ads]…“sexually oriented” [even though they merely advertised an art exhibit]…and [bloviated a lot of their usual puritanical idiocy about how consensual sex is]…inherently harmful.  The pastel pink promotions, up since early March on subway lines across the five boroughs, was bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and invites commuters to a West Village “exhibit dedicated to the global sex worker movement”…

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All shall love me and despair.  –  Galadriel

Have you ever considered the allegorical meaning of the One Ring?  Because it’s apparently beyond the comprehension of most humans, especially authoritarians, that nobody can be trusted with that kind of power, not even a Galadriel.  And in those moments when I feel myself being tempted by even the concept of power, I rewatch this to remind myself…and to pray that in similar circumstances, I would have the strength to reject it as she did.  The links above the video were provided by Anarras Ansible, Walter Olson, Franklin Harris, Election Babe, Cop Crisis, Robby Soave, and Cop Crisis again, in that order.

From the Archives

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