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Posts Tagged ‘Facts in the Case of Monica Jones’

[When we fail to] require lawyers and courts to base arguments on real evidence…not conjecture or faux science…we give government unlimited power to mandate harmful laws, with no recourse for those whose lives or health are jeopardized.  –  Kathryn Kolbert

Don’t Confuse Us With Facts

Compare the judge’s comments about Rue to those made by Judge Himel about Melissa Farley:

…the U.S. Court of Appeals…heard oral arguments in a Texas case challenging the constitutionality of an abortion law, H.B. 2, that has shuttered half the abortion clinics in the state…Judge Catharina Haynes…questioned whether the law was medically justified…“Are we saying if you can find someone in the world to say we need marble floors in an abortion clinic, then that would be good enough to allow the Texas legislature to pass that?”…in recent abortion cases across the country, that is indeed what state attorneys are doing when they hire Vincent Rue, the pioneering junk scientist  behind “post-abortion syndrome”…Rue, discredited by courts decades ago, has since made a career as a behind-the-scenes litigation consultant…Judge Daniel Huyett found that Rue’s testimony “…is not credible…Moreover, his admitted personal opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, suggests…personal bias”…In…the Texas trial…the state was caught red-handed:  Four of the state’s five expert witnesses were forced to change their testimony on the stand when confronted with emails showing they had lied about who had written their reports…

The More the BetterBetty White nude

Recognize this young lovely?  She’s one of America’s best-loved comic actresses, Betty White, practically a symbol of wholesomeness and niceness.  And she started her career by posing nude in the early ’40s.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to discover this; it’s yet another refutation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy and a demonstration of the ubiquity of sex work and the fact that sex workers aren’t mostly pathetic victims.

A Broker in Pillage

Translation of the last line:  “Let us keep your car or cash and we won’t publish your name and picture.”  The quaint non-“law enforcement” term for this is “blackmail”.

…HB713 would allow [cops] to [steal] a car or other property that was [nearby during] a first-time prostitution…offense.  Right now, property can only be [stolen] for a felony prostitution charge…the Texas Department of Public Safety [pretends] there’s a link between human trafficking and prostitution…Property…could be used as part of a deal in settling a case with the person arrested…

Above the Law 

criminally-charged drug court participants were forced into sexual activity by drug court officer Winfred Eugene Vance Jr. and…Vance’s supervisors did nothing to stop it…Vance blackmailed drug court participants into sexual activity after the participants were threatened with a false failed drug test that could lead to jail time if they did not comply…

Naked Truth

Articles from sex workers, telling the truth about sex work, continue to appear in more mainstream venues.  This one from transgender sex worker Diana Hemingway, entitled “9 Things I Learned in My First Year as a Sex Worker“, does a lot to bust stereotypes and reiterate what I say repeatedly:  sex workers aren’t intrinsically different from others, and sex work is work.

First They Came for the Hookers…

A particularly-blatant example of how sex prohibition never stops with whores:

A couple who lost their teenage daughter to prostitution is now speaking out against a proposed [strip club] in Regina.  Nearly 25 years ago, Ed and Linda Smith’s daughter was killed at age 18…  “We’re opposed to this strip club…not only will it be demeaning to women by treating them as…a commodity, it will also have a huge negative impact on the men who attend”…said Ed Smith…[who is] a regular speaker at “John schools” in Saskatchewan…

The Widening Gyre 

“Sex trafficking” is caused by commercials!

A Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium aimed at keeping young people safe from human trafficking is scheduled…Keynote speaker Nicole Clark will explore media’s negative effects on girls’ self image and self-esteem, from oversexualization to the pressures to be thin and pretty…

Bottleneck (#313)

This licensing law was sold as a way to “protect” women:

Saskatoon has imposed a temporary freeze on issuing adult services licences, something the operator of a local brothel says is a “very big mistake” and will force the city’s sex workers to resort to illegal and “sketchy” ways of making a living…Canada’s new prostitution laws…now make reference to “offering, providing or obtaining sexual services”…no licences will be renewed until the city determines whether it needs to change its bylaw in light of [this]…

Still a Child 

Agency denial, pimp mythologizing, ludicrous numbers and the other typical trappings are used to divert the reader’s attention from the fact that the “sex trafficked child” who is “rescued” by an “FBI Child Exploitation Task Force” in this story is 18, which the last time I checked is still a legal adult in every part of the United States.

Drawing Lines

A particularly loathsome example of a porn performer trying to pretend she isn’t a whore, because whores are degraded and disgusting and she’s pimped by big companies.  Bonus hypocrisy points: it’s well-known that, like many in her profession, she escorts on the side.

Consider this her nomination to the Hall of Shame.

Facts in the Case of Monica Jones

Monica Jones’ conviction was overturned on appeal:

Defendant-Appellant Monica Renee Jones…was convicted in Phoenix Municipal Court of manifesting an intent to commit…prostitution.  Defendant contends as follows: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of her prior conviction; (2) the trial court erred in considering her potential punishment in assessing her credibility; (3) the trial court erred in not holding a jury trial; and (4) the trial court erred in holding the city code constitutional.  For the following reasons, this Court vacates the judgment of guilt…

Skewed By Taboo

Another, very thorough look at how the GSS and similar surveys are absolutely useless on sexual topics:

…One of the many reasons sex is puzzling is that we lack reliable data.  People lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves…[in] the General Social Survey…Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them.  This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.  Heterosexual women say they average 55 sex acts per year, using a condom in 16 percent of them.  This adds up to about 1.1 billion heterosexual condom uses per year…[but] fewer than 600 million condoms are sold every year…About 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 say they are sexually active, not currently pregnant and not using contraception.  Even with relatively conservative assumptions about how many times they are having sex, we would expect 10 percent to become pregnant every month.  But this would already be more than the total number of pregnancies in the United States…

Traffic in Nonsense

There are actually several of these “anti-trafficking” trucker groups:

…“Truckers Against Trafficking” [are]…teaming up with the Iowa Department of Transportation to educate those who know the roads best…officer Jared Arbegast is reaching out to give more awareness to the…nearly 300,000 young people at risk of being trafficked for sex each year…They say this can happen anywhere there is a large gathering of people, for example major sporting events…TAT recommends that if you do encounter a sex trafficker, do not approach them, instead notify the police…photos of “Victims” and pimp would be great…

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Law enforcement stings designed to shame men who pay for sex are nothing more than the state blowing its own morality horn.  –  Jim Norton

Rough Trade Jason Oates

A convicted rapist…has been jailed for 11 years…Jason Oates…approached [a sex worker]…and agreed to pay £20…but…produced a large-bladed hunting knife…and demanded that she submit…to sex without charge…Oates…[previously served] three…years [for another rape]…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

I just can’t imagine how it got there:

Gardai are investigating after a laptop and documents belonging to a garda were discovered in a brothel in Amsterdam…The high-level investigation will probe how the individual’s bag was found in the brothel…

Check Your Premises

Cops in a country preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex insist men won’t be arrested if they confess to attempting to buy sex:

…PACT-Ottawa [reported that] more than half of…sex buyers they surveyed…said they…would call police if they suspected coercion.  That jibes with research…by sociologist Chris Atchison…Sextrade101 founder Natasha Falle, who [claims] she [was] trafficked…[in] her teens…[pretends that] “They never questioned our bruises, our broken bones…I used to see between one and five guys a night and I was in it for 12 years”…Det.-Const. Chris Lavergne has yet to field a call from a client…”Is there a way to make Johns understand, you’re not going to get in trouble for calling the police and giving us the information”…

1) Falle is full of shit; I bruise easily and was quizzed every time I had an unusually large one. I daresay nearly every sex worker has had that experience.  I do, however, think it’s interesting that she reports a realistic number of clients; I’m sure it will grow later.
2) Lavergne can’t conceive that the reason he “has yet to field a call” is that overt coercion in the sex industry is actually pretty rare.

The Scarlet Letter

What is it with New York state DAs and their sophomoric attempts at “humor”?  “Albany County DA David Soares rolled out a new initiative…to combat sex trafficking…Frontpage…will post a photo of every person convicted of paying for sex in the county…”  And this op-ed commenting on the “strategy” is so over-the-top it almost has to be a joke:

Some people say that prostitution is a victimless crime…but…there are victims.  A lot of them.  Children are often forced or compelled into prostitution at an early age…drug addicts sell their bodies to support their habits…prostitutes are often beaten and raped in order to keep bringing in the money for their pimps.  Families are harmed by the “johns” patronizing prostitutes.  Full neighborhoods fall victim to the plague.  Diseases are spread. Human trafficking — a $32 billion-a-year business in New York alone — is now an international crisis…

Saving Them From Themselves

If it had been pictures of himself, I’m sure the cops would’ve taken action:

A mother in South Carolina called sheriff’s deputies on her [15-year-old] son…after finding porn playing on her living room TV…the [woman] “immediately turned off the TV” and ushered her 2-year-old daughter out of the room…before calling the police on her son…the sheriff’s office did not make an arrest or issue a citation…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic Joshua Baron

A federal judge has sentenced a 40-year-old suburban Chicago doctor to nearly six years in prison for using a classified-ad site to trade prescription pills for sex.  Joshua D. Baron…blamed what he called “demons” of sexual addiction…the pediatric neurologist placed ads on Craig’s List [sic] offering pills for sex and requesting photos of respondents.  He later e-mailed hospital website links to prove he was a physician…

An Example To the West

Patoo Abraham has led protests…to ensure that prostitution is legalized in Nigeria and that sex workers be protected and respected…“We are tired of dying in silence; we want to be able to practice our profession with pride like every other person…Sex work is normal work and there are sex workers everywhere under one form of disguise or the other”…

Stand-Up Guys 

Comedian Jim Norton’s article in Time is definitely flawed, but I applaud any client who comes out and has the balls to write about it:

I’m not ashamed to pay for sex—and other men shouldn’t be either…The illegal aspect of prostitution has never deterred me, nor would legalizing it cause me to engage in it more…in a free society, people must be allowed to make choices for themselves that are incomprehensible to others.  By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers…

Traffic Jam

This farrago of racism, xenophobia and “sex trafficking” nonsense is even over the top by Daily Mail standards:

…London has become the hub, the epicentre for a global trafficking enterprise involving thousands of children for exploitation, sexual abuse and even…ritual voodoo killing…Hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK…Many are raped and sexually abused…there is a vast reservoir of lost children…anonymously shuffled from flat to shabby flat – a dark pool feeding child exploitation and misery across the planet…Britain’s generous child benefits system has become an international magnet for fraudsters who…traffick…thousands of children into this country every year to take advantage of payments and these young victims are prey for other vices, too – a ready made market for sexploitation…

I love the way it grows from hundreds to thousands in just a few paragraphs; in his next article I’m sure it will be millions. naughty girls

First They Came for the Hookers…

These “complaints” are always from cops:

An Oshkosh [Wisconsin] strip club is closed [after]…the…District Attorney’s office filed a civil suit against the owner…in response to several prostitution complaints…The assistant district attorney says Naughty Girls is a nuisance to the community.  He is asking a judge to close the business for a year and that all moveable property be sold…

Yellow Fever

Bars and clubs = “hub for underage prostitution” because travel agents say so:

Indian men are flocking to Kazakhstan in droves, if travel and tour operators are to be believed…Reason?  The thriving sex industry.  Thailand, Singapore and Dubai have been the traditional destinations; but that is changing…Kazakhstan…has become a hub for underage prostitution over the past few years…bars, cafes and club [sic]…are used as pick-up joints…

King of the Hill

Are you slipping, Toledo?  In the original “King of the Hill” entry you were #3, but according to WKYC you’ve dropped to fourth place.  Maybe if you give grants to “pimps” to build more hair salons you can reclaim your lost glory from Miami or Tampa Bay.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (TW3 #135)

The term “rescue” used in this context is utterly tone-deaf:

…[South African] University students…[designed] a device intended to…help sex workers’ organisations keep an eye on the safety of their members…[it] has eight Wi-Fi transmitters linked to armbands that will be worn by the sex workers in the vicinity…the armband…[has] four buttons…on-line, off-line, jump [check in to a call] or panic…Should a sex worker send a distress call, the control room will forward her…precise location…to sex worker organisations who will alert the emergency services…

I Saw My Brain

Polk County, Florida…Sheriff Grady Judd assembled a press conference…[to brag about a huge sting operation, but] either didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot “big board” had already been cleared of committing crimes…”It’s fair…Because…when we arrest them as ‘sexual perverts on children,’ I’m going to call them [that]…we have a very liberal…criminal justice system, sometimes it’s more difficult to prove ‘beyond…every reasonable doubt’…”

Given that our “liberal” incarceration machine imprisons five times as many people as civilized nations do, imagine the nightmare that would result if maniacs like Judd got their way.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Even by the low standards of the modern American press, this article is hilariously yellow:

…Domestic sex trafficking…is an increasingly common and highly lucrative underground business …involving American girls and young women (but sometimes boys) forced into sex slavery by sick pimps…in places as unassuming as a mall or a train station.  Pimps can earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year on each victim they force into prostitution…experts say Philly’s location creates a particularly attractive opportunity for the brokers of enslaved women.  “We are sort of in a unique hub area because we’re between New York, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., Harrisburg – all of which have child-prostitution problems,” said Michelle Morgan, an assistant U.S. attorney…”There are a lot of places for pimps to go from here to make more money, to buy new girls, to trade girls, so it’s a lucrative area”…Tiffany…[was] swept into the dark underbelly of sex trafficking…she [was forced]…to sell her young body to dozens of men…she would have sex with them or do whatever else popped into their twisted minds…

One can barely help picturing “journalist” Morgan Zalot masturbating furiously as he writes those last few lines.  The mall occupies the place in modern “white slavery” hysteria that the ice cream parlor did in the first cycle a century ago.

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Because “rehab” to “get us off the streets” is a perfect “solution” for the 90% or more of sex workers who are neither “on the streets” nor addicted to any drug:

Members of the Zanesville City Council attended a neighborhood barbecue…to discuss…prostitution…Sandy Gentry…said…the…ideal response…would be to create some kind of rehabilitation facility where prostitutes could go to get help and get off the streets…helping reform their lives would be the best solution…

Vendetta

Buried under all the monstrous male-demonizing and female-infantilizing rhetoric is the unstated fact that the “National Day of Johns Arrests” ballyhooed in this article is the brainchild of one sad, sick woman acting out her twisted psychodrama on thousands of strangers who never did anything to hurt her:

Law enforcement agencies across the country collaborated in a recent series of sex stings that netted the arrests of almost 500 men seeking to buy sex and 14 pimps and traffickers…[as] part of an annual “National Day of Johns Arrests”…Officials said 111 prostitutes were recovered during the operation, including 13 juveniles…

“Recovered” means “arrested and caged”.  Note that this big “rescue” found only 13 underage girls in 14 states; so much for the “epidemic of child prostitution”.  Phoenix can always be counted on to put an extra-stupid spin on a story like this; a cop with the Dickensian name Trent Crump blathered, “We want people to understand this is not because of Super Bowl, but with the Super Bowl coming, this may be a venue in which people believe and people believe they can come here.”  Trent, Maggie McNeill believes and Maggie McNeill believes that you are an idiot.

Remembrance (TW3 #410)

A sequence of a dozen images…taken by [an English] Lieutenant…are believed to be the only photographs ever to surface of British officers from the 1914-1918 war inside a “blue lamp” – the refined category of brothel reserved by secret edict of the British army for the officer classes…Other ranks…were restricted to crude “red-lamp” brothels…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #415)

This is mostly a lot of asinine and self-contradictory political “sex trafficking” bullshit; for example, the mayor belches out “The program saves women’s lives,” but two short paragraphs later the women morph into teens (all of whom are said to be “12 to 14 years old”), and four paragraphs later they’re vomiting out “the needs of the child”.  The really interesting thing is the continued harping on “gangs” and the obvious grooming of “sex trafficking” to be the new excuse for the police state once the drug war inevitably dies: “Gangs and other criminal organizations prefer humans [to drugs] because they’re a reusable resource; they can be resold…

Facts in the Case of Monica JonesLaverne Cox

Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox of the hit series Orange is the New Black is lending her support to [Monica] Jones [during Jones’ appeal of her conviction for “manifesting prostitution”]…Cox, like Jones, is a transgender woman of color.  She has some serious concerns about the Phoenix law, which some call “walking while trans”…

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If they come for me in the morning, they’re coming for you that night.  –  Monica Jones

Eleven months ago Monica Jones, a transgender sex worker, activist and social work student at Arizona State, was arrested for “manifestation of prostitution”, Arizona’s label for the tyrannical laws which allow cops virtually everywhere in the United States to arrest any woman they like by claiming she “acted like a whore”.  The tag “Lack of Evidence” is full of such instances, and I synopsized a few of them in “Be Careful Who You Rape”:

…When prostitution is criminalized to any degree, women who carry condoms, answer personal ads, wear sexy lingerie, go without lingerie, fail forced “virginity tests”, ask a cop if he’s a cop, “act sexy”, go out after dark without a male chaperone, or even just “look like a prostitute” are regularly arrested and charged with having sex for a reason some people don’t like…

Stand With Monica JonesThough there have been a few cases of such ridiculously-flimsy charges being struck down lately, those were not in Phoenix, Arizona, a city so addicted to authoritarianism it has kept Joe Arpaio in office for 22 years.  Jones argued in class with Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, the ethically-retarded academic paid by Arizona prohibitionists to produce bogus “studies” for them; she was thrown out of a previous “diversion” program for refuting the lies and exaggerations the propagandists were trying to drum into their victims; she has prominently protested the blatantly-unconstitutional Project ROSE; and she has posted Backpage ads to warn sex workers about the stings held to force women into the program.  In other words, she was a known enemy of the Phoenix prohibitionist machine and ventured into public (i.e. cop territory) during a time she knew they were out hunting; it was a virtual certainty she would be arrested.  And though many activists expressed shock and surprise when she was found guilty eleven days ago, I would’ve been extremely surprised had she not been.  The American courts are not about justice; they are about providing the appearance of due process while grinding up every single person cops and prosecutors decide to target, and the few who escape are like the bits of meat that are occasionally hurled free from a mechanized abattoir and go flying to the floor: not totally chopped to pieces, but not the same as when they went in, either.

As is typical in emotionally-charged legal cases, there are a lot of rumors and half-truths flying about; I therefore think it would behoove us to set the record straight on a few matters.  First:  the statement which I’ve heard more than any other since this whole thing started is that Monica was arrested for “walking while trans”, in other words unjustly profiled as a sex worker based on nothing other than her transgender status.  But while it’s true that cops do often wrongly assume transgender women are all hookers and harass them on that basis, this was obviously not what happened in Monica’s case; as I explained above, she was a persistent gadfly and a thorn in the prohibitionists’ side, and would no doubt have been targeted for that reason no matter what her race or gender status.  Furthermore, it’s a bit disingenuous to say she was wrongly profiled when she is in fact a “known prostitute” and a vocal member of SWOP Phoenix.  Her arrest was wrongful because laws against sex workers are wrongful, not because she was misidentified.

Next, as I pointed out above, the US court system is not designed to produce justice but to produce prisoners, and while there are some wise jurists out there who really do care about justice, they generally aren’t judging misdemeanor cases in municipal courts.  The typical judge at this level isn’t a brilliant doctor of the law carefully considering questions of fairness and constitutionality; he’s a fair-to-middling lawyer who graduated in the bottom half of his class and is more concerned with what he’s going to have for lunch than whether a law under which someone’s been charged is just or moral.  Such a man isn’t interested in rocking the boat; he pretends to believe whatever lies cops vomit out, decides whether the defendant probably did whatever it was, then reads out whatever’s on the little idiot-proof sentencing chart the ruling legislature insists he follow.  Monica admitted to grabbing the cop’s crotch (for some unfathomable reason); that alone was enough to convict her under the statute even if Hizzoner had been disinclined to play the stooge for lying cops that day.

Judge hanging with his hands tied behind his backFinally, given the circumstances as explained above, the judge was actually fairly lenient by Conviction, Inc standards.  In recent years the judicial branch’s power has been eroded very badly by both the legislative and executive branches; plea-bargaining and universal criminality have handed control of the proceedings to the prosecutor (executive branch), and mandatory sentencing has allowed the legislative branch to usurp much of the remaining judicial authority.  Having declared Monica guilty, the judge was bound by law to sentence her to at least 30 days, which is what he gave her.  The suggested fine was $2500, but he had the authority to reduce it for hardship; he lowered it to $150.  Arizona’s fascist prison system also demands a prisoner pay for his own abduction and mistreatment, to the tune of $2540.70 for 30 days; the judge used a loophole (because Monica is a student) to lower that to $350.  Moreover, he deferred the sentence until the end of May so as not to interrupt her school semester, and also said he would stay the sentence if she filed an appeal within the required 14 days.  If she does go to jail, it will undoubtedly be the men’s jail because this is, once again, Arizona we’re talking about; however, she would be placed in solitary confinement for the duration as she was last time and would therefore “only” be in danger of rape or assault from the guards rather than the other prisoners as well.

It goes without saying that I’m neither defending the conviction itself, nor the caging of human beings on the say-so of subhuman thugs.  I’m merely pointing out that it’s foolish to expect a bean-counter to paint pictures or compose violin concertos when he is paid to (and is indeed only qualified to) count beans, and that it’s naïve in the extreme to expect anything but tyranny from the worst pocket dictatorship in America.   If Monica can find lawyers to handle her appeal pro bono (or nearly so), she has a chance of winning based on a judgment of the law itself at the appellate level, but there is no guarantee of that; cases like this can work their way all the way up to the Supreme Court if the losing party has enough time and money to pursue it that far.  Clearly, neither Monica herself nor SWOP has that kind of resources, and I’m not really sanguine about anyone else (like the ACLU) investing in it.  The case has, however, drawn international attention and is even being watched by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights; perhaps some deep-pocketed organization will finally decide to stop dodging the issue and commit itself to sex worker rights by challenging the laws that let cops arrest virtually any woman they like without any valid reason at all.

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