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Posts Tagged ‘fascism’

Nothing about the human animal is absolute; we’re all complicated organisms with the ability to feel several conflicting things at once.  So even though I’m among the most cynical creatures you’ll ever encounter, there is still a part of me that wants to believe that there is a limit to the stupidity of most of the creatures I encounter.  Alas, I am disappointed in that respect on the order of several times a day, with the result that my cynicism increases still more.  It is my fervent hope that sometime in the next three years I will achieve such a high density of cynicism that no hope of any kind will be able to resist it, and I will collapse into a sort of black hole of cynicism, from whose event horizon not even the slightest particle of faith in humanity is able to escape.  Then and only then will I be able to resist the urge to either beat my head against a wall or actually strangle every yahoo endowed with a one-dimensional sense of ethics who brays that the current sorry state of the American empire is the fault of whichever “wing” of the US Fascist Party he does not identify with.  The idiocy of this tribalism has only increased with the waxing of this century, and despite the fact that the venue in which most of it is displayed happens to be the greatest research tool ever devised by Man, we are still forced to endure deeply, deeply stupid pronouncements from deeply, deeply stupid people that it’s all the fault of Clinton Bush Obama Trump despite the fact that most of what’s wrong is the predictable result of processes going on at least since the Adams administration, picking up speed during and after the American Civil War, exploding during the Progressive Era and New Deal, and coalescing into the basis for their current form during the Reagan administration.  The latest example (and as most of you have probably surmised, the one which inspired this rant) is seeing apparent humans with the attention span of a goldfish and the research skills of a ficus tree blaming FOSTA (the 100% predictable end product of a War on Whores with its roots in the Clinton administration, midwifed by the Bush administration and raised to sturdy adolescence by the Obama administration) on a man who couldn’t find his own moral center with both hands, Google maps and a burning dumpster full of advisors.  No, this scheme for purging all sexual content from the internet is not the product of Trump, the GOP or even “Trump’s America” (whatever the fuck that intensely-moronic phrase means); it is a wholly bipartisan tyranny, and the only difference is that the Republicans are slightly more apt to claim that sex is “immoral” while the Democrats are somewhat more apt to claim it’s “demeaning to women”.  Don’t fucking take my fucking word for it; go fucking look at the fucking vote totals for every fucking “sex trafficking” law ever fucking passed, up to and including fucking FOSTA.  You will find overwhelming numbers of members of both official parties lining up to shred the Constitution, censor the internet, grow the power of police and other government functionaries, and heap every harm and indignity imaginable upon sex workers, our clients, or anyone else who dares to be openly sexual.  Hell, we’ve already got the concentration camps (though we now call them “correctional institutions”); all that remains is to see what final solution they dream up to “help” us.  And whatever it is, you can bet it will be passed with near-unanimity while a vast chorus of toadies cacophonously croak that it’s all the other party’s fault.

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 It’s not a human thing to do—just take this entire community and completely strip them of safe places to…work.  –  Wills de Vogelaere

Banishment

Because obviously his sex rays might harm sick children:

…at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin…staff prevented Stuart Yates, a 49-year-old man on the sex offender registry, from visiting his severely ill son Kahlil, age 9, who was crying and begging him to visit…”In 1998, Yates pleaded guilty to…inappropriately touch[ing] a 15-year-old babysitter…Yates says he took a plea in the case, thinking he would serve six months in prison.  Instead, a judge handed down a five-year sentence….[and registration] as a sex offender for life…Yates is now suing the hospital to be let back inside“…In the face of a lawsuit, the hospital relented in part, and will permit Yates to visit three times a week, for two hours, under supervision.  But the visits must be approved 24 hours in advance, meaning that if the boy wakes up feverish or…takes a turn for the worse, his dad will not be able to hurry to his side…

Backwards into the Future (#540)

Only the authoritarian mind is so twisted it thinks decriminalization of consensual sex is “complicated”:

Vietnamese officials have expressed their concerns about the complicated nature of recognizing prostitution as a job…figures from the International Labor Organization (ILO) suggest that there are nearly 101,300 sex workers…in Vietnam…“Sex workers should have the right to make a living, contribute to society, and enjoy welfare in terms of healthcare and education,” said Cao Van Thanh, vice head of the Social Evil Prevention Department…at a recent meeting in Hanoi…Tran Van Dat, vice head of the Department of General Affairs on Legislative Development…said prostitution should be considered a legitimate profession…

Though they’re commies and therefore need to bloviate about disease and “regulation”, it’s still startling how much more enlightened these politicians’ views are than those in the backward US.

Uncommon Sense (#602)

Once again, myths and agency denial convince Switzerland to narrow the bottleneck for legal sex work:

FIZ, a Swiss NGO specialising in…women’s migration issues…thought that it was very important…that people actually talk about…severe forms of exploitation…the human trafficking framework…has negative effects on other groups of migrant women, and…has turned out to be a framework that is actually a lot about controlling the movement of migrant women, controlling the work of migrant women.  We see this very clearly with sex workers…

Spotlight (#721) 

Asstoon says he’s not just a savior, but an actual messiah:

I have a hard time talking about this issue without being emotional…If you don’t do something about it, then who are you?  It can happen to anyone…Traffickers prey on people…If you look at the place where these [passive, agency-less vegetables] are sold online, its right next to a car, or a sofa or a used bicycle…We basically take a victim, that otherwise is just a posting online, and we turn them into a human being…

Yes, that’s Kutcher claiming to be a literal god who can turn an inanimate object into a human being.

To Molest and Rape (#794)

It’s even easier to get away with rape when you’re literally in bed with the prosecutor:

A Brooklyn prosecutor was caught having an affair with one of the NYPD cops [who raped] a handcuffed teenager…Assistant District Attorney Nicole Manini…is under investigation for potentially violating professional conduct rules…Manini’s illicit relationship with [rapist cop] Richard Hall…was uncovered when investigators with her office reviewed his cellphone records as part of the rape case…Michael David, the lawyer representing Hall’s [victim], said he plans to use the…affair…in his client’s pending civil rights suit against Hall, [rapist cop Eddie] Martins and the city…

The Scarlet Letter (#798)

Who needs the cops to out HIV+ people when dating apps can do it for them?

The gay dating app Grindr says it will stop sharing the HIV status of its users with other companies.  Grindr made the decision…after first defending the practice, which involved sending user profile information — including HIV status and test dates — to two companies called Apptimize and Localytics.  They test the performance of Grindr’s products…

Prudesville (#816) 

Everett expands its argument beyond “women who dress like sluts are asking to be raped”:

After a federal judge ruled against the city of Everett for banning “bikini baristas” from wearing G-strings and pasties, Everett has decided to continue fighting against baristas’ partial nudity…city attorneys stress—while trying to support a ban on butt cleavage—how easy it is to understand the terms of Everett’s ban on “bottom one half of the anal cleft” and “more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola.”  One of the reasons Judge Marsha Pechman blocked the ban was because she ruled those rules were too vague to stand up in court.  She indicated that the argument that the ban limited freedom of expression on the basis of gender was also likely to succeed…

Disaster

Sex workers set up our own social network, just in case we’re censored from Twitter:

…a group of sex workers have apparently attempted to set up their own social network, called Switter.  It’s a Mastodon Instance (Mastodon being the fairly well known open source decentralized social networking platform that allows anyone to set up an individual “instance”)…The stated reasons for Switter are to prepare for the possibility of Twitter banning accounts of sex workers and to have more control over their social media space.  As I write this, the site claims to have about 12,000 signed up users…

And we’re not just fighting a defensive war this time:

Upstart blockchain-based adult outfit, SpankChain, launched an offensive…dubbed “WTFOSTA,” calling for sex workers to expose any politician who’s procured their services and subsequently voted in favor of the recently passed SESTA/FOSTA measure criminalizing web platforms deemed to foster sex trafficking.  The specific bid to the sex worker community, as posted on official campaign site wtfosta.com, is as follows: “We are offering $25,000 to each of the first 10 sex workers who come forward with hard evidence of any politician who voted YES on FOSTA/SESTA engaging their services”…

Cops and Robbers (#823)

Honest headline: “NYPD Creeps Threaten Lonely Men”:

…NYPD [pigs get their jollies]…by planting fake ads and sending [threatening] texts to those looking [for human companionship]…Police have posted phony listings on sites like Backpage.com for years, but always waited until the [victim] showed up and then arrested him. “Advertisements are posted by the NYPD and you won’t know which ads are from us” the [threat lies]…

Actually, it’s extremely easy for men to know which ads are real and which are pig swill: women in real ads will have an established online presence.  Just Google the name, email address, phone number, etc; if there are no other hits on an escort site, other ad sites, Twitter, etc, you’re probably looking at a pig trap.

Elephant in the Parlor (#825) 

Unfortunately, in our post-factual era this doesn’t help as much as it once did:

As Trump’s presidency drags on — having blown past tarnished and into deep, dark ignominy — receipts have become vitally important…Karen McDougal kept receipts.  The former Playboy model’s handwritten notes chronicle an alleged affair in 2006.  These non-coy notes —”we got naked + had sex” — were published in the New Yorker.  A White House rebuttal —”more fake news“— crashed on the shoals of receipts.  Stormy Daniels kept receipts.  The adult-film actress has a copy of the nondisclosure agreement that she signed, and Trump didn’t, requiring her to keep silent about her alleged Trump tryst, on pain of larcenous fines…Nastya Rybka, a Belarussian escort, also kept receipts……she…claims to have audio receipts that show Russian meddling in the U.S. election.  She’s seeking asylum in the U.S. in return for telling all…

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It was very similar in appearance to narcotics.  –  all-purpose cop excuse

Last week, Winnie Pond sent me this video of a cat watching a horror movie, which is pretty amusing.  The links above it (with the exception of “laugh”) were provided by Tim CushingPopehatScott GreenfieldMyles JackmanEmma Evans, and Savannah Sly, in that order.

From the Archives

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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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It’s weird how some people can look at an issue and, though they come to one more or less right conclusion, do so by such a totally wrong route, with emphasis on all the wrong things and coming to several wrong conclusions, it’s almost as though they might as well be on the wrong side because there’s no telling what all the ramifications of their logical, factual and moral errors might be in the future.  And forget trying to neatly classify such a mess under one news heading.  Take a look at this goofy pearl-clutching:

Deepfake porn”, which involves using artificial intelligence software to swap faces in pornographic videos, is quickly emerging as a troubling new method of sexual exploitation…videos do not always fall neatly into existing legal prohibitions, and free speech concerns may prevent new laws from specifically restricting such material.  As a result, the job of policing this obviously harmful content has fallen on private companies who host the servers and platforms where deepfakes are hosted and traded. Reddit and Pornhub, for example, both have announced that they will not allow deepfakes and have started deleting them.  Researchers are studying ways to use automated image-processing to detect faked videos…But new legislation could get in the way of these anti-deepfake efforts.  The House of Representatives passed…FOSTA…There’s no question that sex trafficking is a problem that demands powerful solutions.  But FOSTA’s solution is also troubling.  Traditionally, websites that allow outside users to post messages or information, like Craigslist and Facebook, do not share legal responsibility if the outside users post illegal or improper content, unless the website actually had a hand in making the content.  The worst case scenario is that, to avoid having “knowledge” of sex trafficking, Internet services will stop content-moderation entirely…[because] a mistake in content-moderation could land them in court…People are, sadly, remarkably good at coming up with awful uses of new technology: deepfake porn, fake news, cyberbullying, revenge porn, you name it.  The gatekeepers of the Internet need to be adept to quickly tackle these difficult problems as they arise.  Public pressure on internet companies is necessary to push those companies to do everything they can…The right way for Congress to get internet companies to deal with serious online problems like sexual abuse is, counterintuitively, to leave those companies alone…

It’s no surprise that this potpourri of prudishness comes from Vice, a company which despite its provocative name has a long history of being unable to decide whether it supports human rights and sexual freedom, or prohibitionism and pearl-clutching.  As I’ve pointed out before, the fact that realistic porn cartoons are the worst use for this technology these bird-brains can conceive of is a sign of a culture overdue for collapse.  The idea of, say, cops manipulating a body cam video to make it look as though a black man they murdered had pulled a gun on the cop, doesn’t even enter their sheltered little minds.

But that’s just the start of this exercise in arse-backwardness; next we’re told that a lack of moderation is a “worst-case scenario”, as though trolls had the magic power to crawl through the intertubes to throttle people and were only stopped by the valiant efforts of moderators looking to censor “bad words”.  There are lots of sites that apply little to no comment moderation, and the sky doesn’t fall; normal people just learn not to dip into such cesspools.  Nor does this delicate little flower of a think-tanker (who apparently lacks even the poor excuse of a degree in “womyn’s studies”) stop there; oh no!  When his theme demands a list of “awful uses of new technology”, does he include mass surveillance, people being outed by both cops and Facebook, the violent policing of consensual adult sexuality, the outsourcing of censorship to private corporations and other truly dangerous expansions of the police state?  Nope; the worst things he can think of are name-calling and embarrassing pics.  And the idea that it’s “counterintuitive” that totalitarian government creates more problems than it solves is one that could only emerge from the mind of a statist who learned history from a pop-up book.

But the worst element of all, which I see in a lot of articles far better-written and more firmly grounded in reality than this writer could even imagine, is this gem: “There’s no question that sex trafficking is a problem that demands powerful solutions.”  No, fucking NO!!!  There ARE questions, plenty of them.  “Sex trafficking” as depicted in the propaganda, an international criminal conspiracy of vast size and susceptible to suppression by government “wars” (including mass surveillance, censorship and brutalization of peaceful adults), does not exist.  STOP CEDING GROUND TO PROHIBITIONISTS.  This is why they keep winning; spineless ninnies keep validating their evidence-free fantasies.  It’s like watching people line up to be lobotomized.  Imagine if Churchill had regularly said things like, “We agree that the Jews are a pestilence who need to be exterminated, but Mr. Hitler’s well-meaning strategy will not accomplish that.”  Holy crap, people!  THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR THESE FANTASIES, and plenty to show they’re myths.  STOP ACTING LIKE THERE IS A CRISIS that doesn’t exist.  We can’t win vs prohibitionists while good but weak people keep pretending their sick wanking fantasies of legions of gang-raped toddlers are true.  It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, there’s this horrible crisis but x law or strategy is the wrong way to fight it.”  NO.  Fucking no.  There is no fucking crisis in the first place, and until all sane and decent people admit that, the war on adult consensual sex will never, ever stop.

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Well-adjusted people realize that words have different meanings in different contexts.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Mary Magdalene 

No, it isn’t “orthodoxy” that Mary Magdalene was a whore; quite the opposite, in fact:

A new film about Mary Magdalene sets out to refute the commonly held assumption that she was a prostitute redeemed by Christ…A new film, though, flips the script to show Mary in a new light – as an independent free-thinker who…deserves to be considered as an apostle in her own right…This is deeply contentious territory that flies in the face of the commonly accepted orthodoxy that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute…It is a notion that has been perpetuated for centuries – partly thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had Mary sing about the “many men” she’s “had” in Jesus Christ Superstar…Put all the evidence together and it is easy to conclude that Mary has been the victim of 1,400 years’ worth of character assassination…

Critic Neil Smith’s madonna-whore complex is on full display here; portraying Mary as an “independent free-thinker” is supportive of the idea she was a harlot.  Before the advent of the currently-fashionable “victim” nonsense, we were always seen as independent, uppity women who won’t mind our “place”; in fact, that’s exactly why patriarchal religions dislike us.  But then, I guess we couldn’t expect much from a mind that thinks it makes sense to blame Jesus Christ Superstar (recorded October 1970) for a 1400-year-old tradition.

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

Another of those nonexistent false sexual assault accusations:

Thomas Mowbray didn’t even know Eboni Sanders.  They both lived [in Pittsburgh, PA] in the same…building…In early February 2016, they ran into each other in the laundry room.  Mr. Mowbray claims Ms. Sanders came on to him and that he declined…Twelve days after that, Pittsburgh police charged Mr. Mowbray with indecent assault after Ms. Sanders claimed that he had groped her…The charges marked the beginning of a nightmarish two years in the criminal justice system for Mr. Mowbray…and his girlfriend, Patrese Thompson …Over that time, Pittsburgh police filed six criminal cases against Mr. Mowbray and two against Ms. Thompson — all based on shocking allegations made by Ms. Sanders of gun-toting assailants, assaults, threatening letters and phone calls, stalking, contract killings and knife-wielding attacks…Mowbray spent more than six months in jail.  But on Feb. 22, the last of the cases was withdrawn by…prosecutors.  Police had finally [accepted] what the couple had long insisted — that Ms. Sanders was lying.  Now she is the one facing criminal charges.  “For two years of our lives, this woman has been using the criminal justice system to terrorize us,” Ms. Thompson said…

Too Close To Home

Everyone harmed by prostitution laws needs to keep suing over them:

Three men arrested in a 2016 prostitution sting in Bellevue are suing King County and Bellevue police for defamation, [explaining that] officials exaggerated their crimes to satisfy a private foundation that provided a grant for the [pogrom]…Keith Emmanuel, Richard Homchick, and Charles Peters…were only charged with second-degree promoting prostitution during the sweep…However, during press conferences and other public appearances, Bellevue Chief Steve Mylett, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and former sheriff John Urquhart made statements that made it seem like the three men had engaged in crimes like rape and human trafficking…Those statements were made, the suit alleges, to satisfy Demand Abolition…[billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s] foundation that had given the county a grant to [harass sex workers] and [persecute clients].  Demand Abolition gave the prosecutor’s office a $50,000 grant in 2014…and has continued to give grants each year since.  “Defendants have deliberately conflated that prostitution charge with human trafficking and sex slavery as part of a concerted plan to secure private funding by generating publicity and manipulating media coverage of the arrests,” the suit [states]…To keep the grant, the prosecutor’s office had to meet performance targets…increasing the arrests of [men] by 50 percent…

Full of Themselves (#614)

California produces the most horrifying and racist anti-massage-parlor propaganda, hands down:

Doug Bennett, the founder of Magdalene Hope, a [prohibitionist group]…and his [gang] of [busybodies]…[literally spy on Asian-owned massage businesses,] spending their evenings watching the parlors, [stalking] masseuses after they leave and gathering evidence to pass on to the…[cops]…Massage parlors have been [dysphemized as] “modern-day brothels” and “prostitution rings.”  They are [fantasized] by [“trafficking” fetishists] to be storefronts for a complex network of human traffickers shuffling victims throughout the region, multiple [conspiracy theorists, pigs, white supremacists]…and [other tinfoil-hat wearers] said on and off the record…

Naturally, the California Massage Therapy Council is quoted.  Don’t miss the part about how Bennett and his cronies pray together before literally stalking women late at night, and be sure to click on that link in the first line for a look at one of “Magdalene Hope’s” hilariously-bad propaganda ads.

The Widening Gyre (#663)

What hysteria about “crime” in Italy would be complete without bringing in the Mafia?  This lurid, self-righteous mess should serve as a warning to clients to be careful which “journalists” they talk to; this unethical, pompous fantasist fully admits that the only reason she didn’t out a man she interviewed, despite her promise that she wouldn’t, was that he had a wife and children.  Yet she clearly sees herself as moral while the women who honestly sell sex and keep their clients’ confidences are “degraded victims” and the clients who enable them to earn a living are “rapists” who “keep this lurid business of sex slavery alive”.

Opting Out (#700)

“At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots”:

Twitter and other social media companies have so far refused to engage with the government’s plans to introduce age checks to limit underage access to online pornography…Lord Erroll…who chairs the Digital Policy Alliance (DPA)…admitted the ultimate sanction intended for sites that fail to implement AV is unlikely to be applied to Twitter.  Unlike Instagram and Facebook, Twitter has no rules against the posting of sexually explicit material and hosts many accounts that promote publishers and stars of pornography.  “The challenge with that is if you block Twitter, people will just say this is an overreaction, it’s mad, and it would not go down well in public,” Erroll said…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#737)

India’s pigheaded resistance to decriminalization continues:

On February 28…the Union cabinet approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018…[it] falls into the familiar trap of trying to use criminal law to solve a social problem.  The IPC already criminalises trafficking…The new Bill introduces 15 new offences on top of this, and introduces numerous…ambigu[ous]…clauses…[which] unfairly target…marginalised actors and rely…heavily on criminalisation…It only creates further confusion by introducing existing offences in the new packaging of “aggravated offences”, adding more layers of bureaucracy and complicating enforcement…The Bill…relies on the raid, rescue and rehabilitation model, which…is nothing but victim detention, resulting in the complete loss of liberty for an adult woman.  The rehabilitation process disregards the wishes and choices of the “rescued” person, especially sex workers.  Such a paternalistic approach…ignores the agency of adult women to determine what is good for them…

Torture Chamber (#770) 

The state wants us to call these subhuman monsters “correctional officers”:

Jailhouse video reveals California sheriff’s deputies watching and sometimes laughing as a schizophrenic man who had been strapped naked to a chair for 46 hours writhes on the floor of his cell, loses consciousness and eventually dies…the county [was forced to pay Andrew] Holland’s family $5 million for his death, which a medical examiner determined was caused by a pulmonary embolism…[directly caused by] the [inhumane] restraint chair…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

What terrible “crimes” these “gangsters” are accused of:  not paying licenses.  Assisting migrants.  Illegally subdividing a building.  Doing their employees’ laundry.  The fiends!

A triad-controlled prostitution racket that brought sex workers from Europe, Asia and mainland China into Hong Kong has been broken up in one of the city’s biggest anti-vice crackdowns with the arrest of 75 people…the syndicate had turned 72 subdivided flats into one-woman brothels…four vice establishments and unlicensed massage centres in the same district were also controlled by the gang…the syndicate had its own laundry centre…and supplied towels to sex workers…police arrested 14 men and 61 women…

Overdue

“Fainting-couch feminism” is a brilliant coinage:

…[Massachusetts politician] Michelle DuBois…has been calling for the removal of a statehouse sign that reads “General Hooker Entrance” (so inscribed because it stands opposite a statue of [US Civil War] General Hooker), which she described as an affront to “women’s dignity”…If that isn’t the ultimate in futile, fainting-couch feminism, I’m not sure what is…attitudes like hers—which treat women as excessively fragile beings, and which posit that female “dignity” is diminished by even so slight an association with sex work as walking under a door that says “hooker”—just props up old-fashioned and patriarchal ideas about sex and gender…

Cops and Robbers (#813)

As I surmised, this sleazy attempt to hurt sex workers’ income is bankrolled by billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt:

[Pigs trying to harm sex workers] are using cyber-based “patrols” to [harass potential clients]…[in] Los Angeles…Working in partnership with Demand Abolition, a [vanity project] focused on eradicating [sex workers]…sheriff’s deputies post ads to make contact with would-be buyers.  Once phone contact is made, detectives identify themselves as members of the [vice squad]…advise the caller that solicitation is a crime and offer referrals to sex addiction treatment.  Investigators also use electronic “bots” to send [propaganda] text messages to buyers…During the first month of operations this year, nearly 1,900 conversations took place with potential sex buyers which prompted more than 30,000 text warnings designed to disrupt [sex workers’ business]…

Guinea Pigs (#818) 

Every New Orleanian knows that cockroaches can’t stand sunlight:

[After] The Verge reported the existence of a six-year predictive policing collaboration between the New Orleans Police Department and Palantir Technologies…which…was unknown to the public and key members of the city council prior to publication…outgoing…Mayor Mitch Landrieu…[said] his office would not renew its pro bono contract with Palantir, which has been extended three times since 2012…The mayor did not respond to repeated requests for comment from…media since news of the partnership broke.  There is also potential legal fallout from the revelation…[which was not included in] discovery evidence [for a number of criminal trials]…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

When an incredibly bad law skates through a legislature, follow the money:

FOSTA…offer[s] a powerful incentive for online platforms to police the speech of users and advertisers.  A perceived violation of a state’s anti-trafficking laws could lead to authorities seeking civil or criminal penalties, or a barrage of lawsuits.  So, why are movie studios involved at all in this debate?  Hollywood is lobbying for laws that will force online intermediaries to shut down user speech.  That’s what they’ve been seeking since practically the beginning of the Internet…For legacy software and entertainment companies, breaking down [Section 230] is another road to a controlled, filtered Internet—one that looks a lot like cable television.  Without safe harbors, the Internet will be a poorer place—less free for new ideas and new business models.  That suits some of the gatekeepers of the pre-Internet era just fine…An Internet that’s policed by “copyright bots” is what major film studios and record have advocated for more than a decade now…

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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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