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Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

[Sex workers] are selling sex by choice…[no matter] what Demand Abolition says.  –  Alison Bass

The Public Eye 

The more sex workers write and speak in public, the harder it will be to ignore us:

The recent book Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn by the pornstar known as “Stoya”…is…a…collection of essays that discusses different topics from technology to religious iconography…a new generation of porn performers taking an intellectual stand on social issues…intellectual porn stars have turned into the avant-garde academics in this field, philosophers of the flesh and some of society’s most serious thinkers on human sexuality…Angela White is known for her advocacy of women’s rights and body positivity…Conner Habib…was a college lecturer of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before he began shooting porn scenes.  Now he’s also known for his writing and his thought-provoking podcast Against Everyone with Conner HabibValentina Nappi in Italy and Amarna Miller of Spain are both porn stars who attended art school and grew up in countries where the Catholic Church held a firm grip on the social and political life.  Yet these women have boldly voiced a feminist and hedonistic worldview, pushing the boundary of public opinion…

Vendetta 

Stephen Lemons speculates on the origin of billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s fanatical hatred of sex workers:

…Hunt also frowns on “the use of pornography to masturbate” and seems to take a dim view of the male sex drive in general.  As for the right of sex workers to make choices for themselves, she opines that “every decision must be weighed in the terms of the overall effect on the [State], even at the cost of the impingement on personal freedom.”  Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies have secured the kind of enforcement against “sex buyers” that Hunt favors.  In a groundbreaking article published in The Intercept, Alison Bass…details how Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies in several cities helped fund local crackdowns…But there may be more at work in Hunt’s worldview than radical feminism.  Her father, H.L. Hunt, was an infamous philanderer who maintained two secret families in addition to the one he shared with his first wife…Swanee is the daughter of the woman who would become Hunt’s second wife, Ruth Ray Hunt, following the death of the first Mrs. Hunt…The billionaire oilman would visit his second family when his first wife was off playing bridge…She describes her mother’s “anguish” at the situation…Swanee…admits to wondering as a kid why she “didn’t have a daddy like the children next door”…Such lachrymose reminiscences may add some context to her anti-prostitution jeremiad.  Take, for instance, this passage from “Deconstructing Demand”:  With most monogamous couples, fidelity includes not only abstaining from sex with another person, but also honesty and transparency.  Buying sex, however, is largely a secret affair that requires a web of deception involving one’s location, time, and money…Children’s lives are strained and they may well become disillusioned with their fathers…

The Forest for the Trees

Sex abuse hysteria, like its twin sister “sex trafficking” hysteria, is the child of the Satanic Panic:

Moral panics…have occurred throughout history.  Two of the most notorious are the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ’90s.  The panics almost exclusively involve women and children and fears for their safety, especially from sexual abuse.  We are in the midst of another such panic, but despite the similarities to past episodes, we are still unable to recognize it as such.  The current panic has been playing out in the military and on college campuses for nearly a decade, but…the…hysteria is creeping into our regular legal system as well…five of the biggest signs…of mass hysteria [are]…1. Due Process Goes Out The Window…2. “Believe The Victim”…[accusations are all the evidence needed]…3. Misleading And Faulty Statistics4. Evidence, Schmevidence…and…5. Pseudo-Scientific Theories About Memory Reign Supreme

Traffic Jam (#411)

The ethically-bankrupt Dominique Roe-Sepowitz has invented another idiotic “study” designed to find exactly what its funders wanted found:

“I would also like to share on the record that…we [chose] to place our office in formal lockdown, file a police report, and get sheriff escort”  Khara Jabola-Carolus…of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women [claimed dramatically] following [what she pretended was] a threat of “imminent physical danger” her office received…“This is a big business and no one…wants their money flow interrupted.”  The threat, Jabola-Carolus said, was in response to the organization’s [prohibitionist] stance and publication of a [bogus] study by HSCSW and Arizona State University School of Social Work, titled Sex Trafficking in Hawai‘i Part 1: Exploring Online Sex Buyers, that [pretends] prostitution demand is much higher in Hawai‘i than it is in the rest of the U.S.  The study used the O‘ahu and Big Island “Women Seeking Men” personals section of Backpage…

The nonsense opening this article?  A politician got a flood of organized calls from people opposed to prohibition and chose to frame them as “threats” to cast activists as members of a sinister cabal.  Other interviewees make a number of ridiculous statements, including one favorite claim of the more racist kind of prohibitionist that non-white women are too stupid to be pragmatic on their own, and had to learn pragmatic sexual motives from more-sophisticated-but-evil white people.  In case you’re wondering why this drama is centered around tiny Hawaii, it’s because there is some support for decriminalization in the state legislature and the prohibitionists want that crushed.

Counter-Countermeasure

Since prohibitionists pushing the “pimp” myth have failed miserably to debunk the John Jay study, they’ve decided to attack its primary author instead:

…Four professors at [John Jay] criminal justice college are on paid leave while the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and State Inspector General probe allegations they brought the underworld they studied into the hallways of John Jay.  Accusations of rape, sexual harassment, facilitating prostitution, and using and selling drugs first surfaced several weeks ago in the written complaints of two John Jay graduates…Naomi Haber [and Claudia Cojocaru]…Ric Curtis…received a $520,000 grant in 2005 from the US Department of Justice to research child sex workers in New York City.  He also led a study on young people working in the sex trade as part of a $1.3 million federally-funded research project in Atlantic City and other cities across the US.  But the feds halted the Atlantic City study in 2012 after receiving…[complaints that] Curtis handed out cigarettes to underage sex workers.  Investigators eventually found that Curtis offered smokes to people who agreed to connect him with prostitutes to interview, but he did not give them to interview subjects…Curtis later wrote that “the findings from my research in 2008 and 2010 earned me scorn among a number of leading practitioners in the…rescu[e industry]…because it undermined the rationale behind their appeals for funding,” according to an email he sent to one of the alleged victims that was included in her complaint…

Gorged With Meaning (#711)

People who pretend students need to be “groomed” into sex work are living in a dangerous fantasy world:

The University of Brighton has been accused [by prohibitionists] of encouraging prostitution after [the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex] ran a stall offering help for students at its freshers’ fairs…In a series of tweets it promoted its attendance, it said: “1 in 6 students does sex work or thinks about turning to sex work…If you…want to talk and don’t know where to go… we’re here for you.  We respect your autonomy, privacy and confidentiality.”  [Prohibitionist fanatics] Julie Bindel…and…Sarah Ditum [called the outreach]…”a grooming operation…preying on the naivety of young students”…academics and students jumped to the defence of the group.  Alison Phipps, professor of gender studies at the University of Sussex, thanked them for their “great work” and doctor Gemma Ahearne, a lecturer and sex industry researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, said their work was “amazing”.  Parker Robinson, student union’s vice president of academic experience at Brighton, said it was “great knowing there are services available ready to help students through difficulties they might be experiencing”…

The fact that Bindel, Ditum and company want young women denied support and advice, potentially resulting in their being harmed or even killed, tells you all you need to know about their sociopathy.

Whither Canada? (#808)

Edmonton has a long history of abusing & dehumanizing sex workers:

Last year, Edmonton [Alberta] police charged more people for purchasing sex than anywhere else in the country.  Edmonton accounted for more than 40 per cent of charges nationwide…The…271 charges in Edmonton…[were] more than double the 114 recorded in Winnipeg, which was second on the list…A vast majority of [victims of the law] were [forced in]to a [“johns school” and made to endure propaganda infantilizing sex workers and demonizing clients]…They pay a $750 [fine], increased from $500 earlier this year, which goes toward…[a prohibitionist] group that runs the day-long session…More than half of the arrests…came from online sting operations…[which] have made clients increasingly skeptical of web-based advertising and [screening]…

Uncommon Sense (#855)

How countries with healthy ideas about sex react to moral panic:

More…sex workers in Bern are renting apartments through…sites like Airbnb or using hotel rooms to carry out their business, according to a new report…Bern is currently home to 28 licensed brothels [but] this number is sinking…[because] rules introduced in 2013 requiring brothels to register have made sex work more expensive…prostitutes are required from 100 to 150 Swiss francs a day to rent a room in a legal brothel.  However, there are dozens of apartments listed on Airbnb for less than this amount.  The trend towards the use of private apartments for sex work runs counter to the intention of [the] rule changes…which [were] designed to [infantilize] prostitutes…and exploit…[their work with taxes and fees]…despite this tendency, police are positive about the new rules, arguing…that authorities now have much tighter control.  [Bern cantonal parliamentarian Christa] Ammann, meanwhile, is calling for prostitution to be completely decriminalized…

Compare Swiss police’s collective yawning over sex workers renting AirBnBs to work with UK cops’ lurid masturbatory fantasies about “sex slaves” in “pop-up brothels”.

Business As Usual (#871) 

I love it when rival herds of swine feed on each other:

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs has formally transferred the investigation into the police vice [gang] to the FBI…as [too much] evidence [to hide] has [been discovered] during an internal investigation…The arrest of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in July by [disguised] vice [cops] and the August [murder] of 23-year-old Donna Castleberry [during an attempted rape] by…vice [pig] Andrew Mitchell have put a spotlight on the 20-member [gang].  Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of the [gang], was relieved of duty [on September 26th.  Besides the rape and murder]…he had been the subject of a potentially criminal complaint that had been filed about a week before…Todd Lindgren, a spokesman for the FBI…[said] a search…[was] conducted…on…Mitchell[‘s home]…

The Widening Gyre (#872) 

Even celebrities are seeing “sex trafficking” everyplace they go:

Lindsay Lohan wins the most bizarre video of the month…as she accuses parents of trafficking her children and then gets punched in the face.  Lindsay, who was in Moscow, gets out of her car and approaches the family — 2 boys and their parents.  She says they’re Syrian refugees who need help…then…accuses them of trafficking their [own] kids, as she speaks in both English and Arabic…After tailing the family for a bit and trying to [abduct] the children, you see the mother snap and attack Lindsay…

I’m really grateful for moments of comic relief from hysterical young women like Lohan, which at least break the tension of the hysteria being used to destroy lives and abolish civil liberties.

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Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?  –  John 18:38

I don’t think it’s controversial to state that Donald Trump is widely hated, and with good reason.  But a sizable number of people hate him so much that it becomes a kind of mania that some refer to as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”: they overreact to every single stupid thing he does as though he were literally lobbing grenades into kindergartens; they focus on inconsequential nonsense like his picky eating habits instead of focusing on his actual, dangerous faults; and rather than criticizing awful policies which definitely originated with him (like his disastrous tariffs) they blame him for schemes which originated with Obama, Bush the Second, Clinton or even earlier.  But the scariest and most dangerous symptom of this syndrome is misusing the word “fascist” to mean something like “overtly racist” while simultaneously sanctifying authoritarian terms like “treason” and licking the boots of anyone they think might hurt Trump, even sociopathic monsters like Kamala Harris and police-state organs like the FBI which have caused untold harm to peaceful people (while simultaneously vilifying its sister organization ICE).  Last week I even saw people on Twitter claiming that “lying to the FBI” is an actual moral evil (malum in se) rather than a mere arbitrary law (malum prohibitum), simply because they perceive some antagonism between the Orange-utang and the Spawn of J. Edgar Hoover.

First, let’s get one thing clear: lying to sociopaths who work to destroy people’s lives for violations of arbitrary laws made up by privileged douchebags completely disconnected from those whose lives they presume to micromanage is not a wrong; in fact, it is both a right and a sacred duty.  But even were that not so, the idea that factual truth is some sort of self-evident icon with the magical power to force the powerful to admit its veracity is so incredibly foolish and childish that one can barely conceive of an adult naive enough to believe it.  And yet, my stating that simple truth resulted in numerous attacks from people who no doubt also think that a polygraph is as infallible an instrument as Wonder Woman’s magic lasso.  The actual truth is that, when the government is involved, “truth” is defined by the one holding the gun, as explained in this series of tweets by Ken “Popehat” White:

…A very popular response to concerns about a perjury trap is the response “just tell the truth!”  This is rainbows-and-unicorns fantasy.  Certainly a liar is in jeopardy when testifying before the grand jury or talking to government agents.  But so are you, my friend.  Unless you’re perfect, and very lucky, and dealing with purely ethical and knowledgeable government agents.  Among the MANY dangers: the government is convinced that the truth is false; the government is lying; your memory is faulty; or you panic and make bad choices like some kind of HUMAN.  You might even get prosecuted for a non-answer that prosecutors decide was evasive, even if it wasn’t a lie.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Barry Bonds.  The “just tell the truth” response assumes, without basis, that the purpose of interviews is to gather information.  In fact, using interviews to create criminal liability is a primary feature of federal criminal investigation.  “Just tell the truth” presumes trustworthy questioners with pure motives and enlightened, near-perfect witnesses.  Neither assumption is warranted…

The point of interrogation is not to collect information; it’s to destroy the victim or turn them into a weapon against another victim, or both.  And the only thing you should do when faced with such interrogation is to shut the fuck up except to say, “I want my lawyer”.

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Justice is what…feminists want from others, not what they do to others.  –  Scott Greenfield

Imaginary Victims 

Concern for “child sex trafficking victims” vanishes when there are no adult whores to oppress:

The Ohio Supreme Court…upheld the murder conviction of a [young] woman whose forced prostitution as a teenager was cited as a factor leading to her involvement in the fatal shooting of her pimp during a robbery…that prosecutors [claim] Alexis Martin helped plan…she…was 15 at the time of the slaying…[of] Angelo Kerney…and his brother.  The girls were having sex with the victims to distract them when the robbers entered a house and the victims were shot…Martin is not accused of firing a gun.  The juvenile court judge should have determined that Martin was covered by a 2012 Ohio law that protects children whose crimes are related to their status as trafficking victims…Had the judge determined that the so-called Safe Harbor law applied, a court-appointed guardian for the teen could have been named…

As I’ve pointed out many times, “safe harbor” laws only protect “perfect victims”, not real ones.

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark 

Did anyone not know this already?

Men have better sex with women who are emotionally unstable…and women prefer men who are less agreeable but pay attention to detail, according to the German survey of a thousand people…Julia Velten and her colleagues interviewed each volunteer about their sex lives, personality and sexual function…

False Target (#42)

Though most of this is just typical racist anti-migrant bullshit, one part reveals a deeper sickness:

An 18-year-old Afghan native seeking asylum in Austria may have had his application denied because he didn’t act gay enough…Homosexuality is against the law in Afghanistan and many other Muslim-majority countries…But…an Austrian official…[wrote] “The way you walk, act or dress does not show even in the slightest that you could be homosexual…You appear to be capable of a level of aggression which would not be expected among homosexuals”…He had said he became aware of his sexuality when he was 12 years old, but the official found that was “rather early” and so not likely, particularly in a society such as Afghanistan “where there is no public sexual stimulation through fashion and advertisement”

The idea that all queer people “act gay” (even if they come from a place where doing so might be fatal) is bad enough, but the notion that young people are asexual tabulae rasae until they are “sexualized” by society is much worse; this dehumanizing dogma is the foundation for “conversion therapy” and “john schools”, because if sexuality is learned one who fails to conform to enforced norms can be “re-educated”.

Monsters 

Given the very large queer population of West Hollywood, the attackers were probably looking for someone to beat up:

Gay porn star and comedian Wesley Woods has opened up about a brutal…assault he and his best friend endured on 8 August when out walking in West Hollywood….in a video posted on his Twitter account….where scars on his face are visible…

Lower Education

This is what feminists call “equality”:

When…feminist superstar Judith Butler’s disgraceful and flagrantly hypocritical letter defending her sister superstar, NYU prof Avital Ronell…was sent around for signatures, threatening NYU with the wrath of scholars if Ronell wasn’t exonerated, the university had already found Ronell responsible…one of the university’s brightest academic lights had sexually harassed a gay male student under her care.  This wasn’t one of the faux Title IX cases of post-hoc regret, but the real deal.  Ronell was grad student Nimrod Reitman’s doctoral adviser…And…she turned him into her boy toy upon the implicit threat of destroying his career.  And it continued throughout his graduate studies, as proven by Ronell’s emails…Yet, these scholars sought to coerce a university into silence…to conceal Ronell’s conduct…”Diane Davis, chair of the department of rhetoric at the University of Texas-Austin…said she and her colleagues were particularly disturbed that…Reitman was using Title IX, a feminist tool, to take down a feminist“…Forget the jargonized rhetoric about power dynamics and oppression.  To these feminist scholars, Title IX is just a bludgeon to beat men into submission, and they fought to protect one of their own from facing the consequences of her sexual abuse.  And largely succeeded…

If Men Were Angels 

Isn’t it strange how sex workers are blamed for sexual abuse of kids when cops & clergy are the worst offenders?

Willow Creek Community Church [in Illinois] agreed to pay more than $3 million to settle lawsuits over the sexual abuse of two developmentally disabled boys by a church volunteer…The second and largest of the settlements, for $1.75 million, was made in February, before the Chicago Tribune revealed [supposedly] unrelated claims that the evangelical megachurch’s founder, the Rev. Bill Hybels, engaged in inappropriate conduct with women, eventually leading to his early retirement and, this month, the resignation of the church’s two leading pastors and its entire board of elders.  The influential…church also agreed last year to pay $1.5 million to another victim of former volunteer Robert Sobczak Jr…[who] is serving a 7-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2014 to sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy with special needs at the church and an older boy who was not connected to Willow Creek.  In 2013, Sobczak pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another disabled boy, around age 9, at the church…

The Widening Gyre (#716) 

These silly stories have been common on Facebook for some time, but now I’m starting to see them on Twitter; this one popped up in my timeline last week, and naturally my mockery of it attracted a number of “You can’t prove it isn’t true!” idiots.  They’re beautiful examples of The Law of the Instrument: “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”  And if you’re a not-very-bright young woman who’s been told that “sex traffickers” are lurking behind every bush waiting to abduct you, naturally you start to see everything in your environment, up to and including litter, as a “sign of sex trafficking”.  I’m not sure how much more ridiculous this hysteria will get before it implodes, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long to find out.

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

Under a “legalization” regime, sex workers are still persecuted using idiotic and arbitrary nonsense like “illegally subdividing a building”:

Hong Kong police arrested scores of suspected sex workers after launching new anti-vice raids in a residential building where nearly 100 prostitutes…were [arrested] in a [raid] earlier this year…the 80 [new] arrests…at the 15-storey King Hing Building…were…on suspicion of breaching their conditions of stay…Inspector Timothy Cheung Chun-long said…“Investigations showed criminals arranged sex workers to work in subdivided flats in the building”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#824)

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

Back in March, as it investigated a spate of armed robberies across Portland, Maine, the FBI made an astonishing, unprecedented  request of Google…to find all users of its services who’d been within the vicinity of at least two of nine of those robberies…the request covered a total space of 45 hectares and could’ve included anyone with an Android or iPhone using Google’s tools…The FBI then  demanded a lot of personal information on affected users, including their full names and addresses…Google account activity…[and] all affected users’ historical locations…Google didn’t provide the information…[but] the FBI’s remarkable attempt…[should] worry all who…[realize that] Google continue[s] to track people even when they turned location features off…the FBI believe they have a right to that location data too…

Laura Lee, Sex Work Stigma, and the Limits of #MeToo (#863)

Brooke Magnanti on the re-opening of Laura Lee’s case:

…you probably know the outlines of Laura Lee’s story by now.  How the vivacious and outspoken campaigner for rights was (in her words) abused by a man who interviewed her, then she reported him, then she died.  How he has gone to great lengths to cover up his misdeeds since. Including demanding apologies out of Senators and journalists, simply for sharing what I wrote.  How he leans on Twitter to disappear my tweets…How he does anything but face justice.  This week, a mote of light shone through a chink in the brick wall of denial.  Gardaí have reopened their investigation into Laura’s accusations.  This includes interviewing witnesses who saw Laura and Olaf on the night in question, who offered information to the police before but whose evidence was never followed up…We see a pattern in all of this:  that an assent, or an apology, or public acceptance wrung out under the threat of legal proceedings says very much about the man who tries to bend women to his will, and very little about the women — for it is only women — he has tried to silence.  How he systematically uses their fear of humiliation and harassment to get a superficial approximation of what he wants…

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Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever.

I write it all the time, and I’m not the only one who expresses similar advice.  And yet, I am never at a shortage for examples with which to embellish the repetition, because the stupid, the foolish, the naive, the delusional, and the evil call them all the time, as do bootlickers, copsuckers, quislings, collaborators, prohibitionists and lawheads.  Despite the plethora of examples of cops arriving on the scene and beating, tasing, maiming, raping, arresting or even murdering the subject of the call (or the caller, innocent bystanders, children, pets, each other, and even people in different houses or even different neighborhoods), people who lack either sense, morality or a solid connection to reality just keep on calling them, either out of the childish misbelief that these thugs’ job is to “help” or “protect”, or because they’re sociopaths who actually want to inflict harm on others and fail to comprehend that it could (quite literally, if the cops are bored and decide they want to liven things up with  “dynamic entry”) blow up in their faces.

It doesn’t matter what reason you think you have; don’t call them for any reason whatsoever.  No, your reason is not different, as you may learn the hard way when someone you love ends up jailed, beaten or dead.

Don’t call them because you see someone with something you think is a weapon.

Don’t call them if you see something you’ve heard is a “sign” of “sex trafficking”.

Don’t call them because somebody is doing something you don’t understand.

Don’t call them because somebody is reading, resting, or sleeping.

Don’t call them because you see a mixed-race couple or family.

Don’t call them because you’re “suspicious” of your neighbor.

Don’t call them because you’re “worried” about somebody.

Don’t call them because you think you see or smell drugs.

Don’t call them because somebody talked to your kid.

Don’t call them because someone is taking pictures.

Don’t call them because somebody pissed you off.

Don’t call them because someone looks “foreign”.

Don’t call them to ask for a “welfare check”.

Don’t call them because someone is black.

Don’t call them to “report” anything.

Don’t call them at all.  Period.  And don’t call 911 either, because that also results in the cops being called, and whatever information you gave the operator is unlikely to be passed to the cops, which means they’ll arrive in an even greater state of ignorance than the one they generally go about their business in.  Don’t call the FBI, ICE, CPS, EPA, or even campus police or security guards, because they’re all just different kinds of cops.

And if somebody else calls the cops, do not talk to them except to ask if you are being detained, and if you’re free to go.  Do not joke with them, flirt with them, respond to their conversational gambits, answer “a few simple questions”, try to “help” them, get too close to them, let them into your house, consent to a search, or anything else unless they have a warrant and you have read it and recognize that it does indeed name you (in which case, you’d better look like getting your lawyer on the phone pronto).  If they say you are indeed under arrest, shut up except to say “I want my lawyer.”  Do not accept any excuses they give about why you can’t have one or don’t need one.

Cops are not your friends, and they are not “public servants”; they are thugs hired by the ruling class to extract money from you and keep you in your place.  And your best strategy is to treat every encounter with them as an encounter with a dangerous, unpredictable, rabid wild animal who may maul you for no reason you can adequately comprehend.

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Mike Siegel is a professional astronomer who has been one of my online friends for about six years now; he has helped me analyze bad studies and calculate statistics, given me advice on scientific points in some of my stories, and even been featured here as a fiction writer himself.  I’ve also linked to some of his articles, and right now he has an excellent demolition of FOSTA and the evil mindset which spawned it on the group blog Ordinary Times.  He was kind enough to allow me to publish this excerpt, but you really ought to read the whole thing.

…We are in the midst of War on Sex Work that is largely becoming a replacement for the War on Drugs…A war on sex work would be difficult given that about half of Americans think prostitution should be legal.  And so this war has built on a tissue of falsehoods to claim that it is actually a war on “sex trafficking”.  We are constantly being told — by politicians, by the media and by the entertainment industry — that there is a national crisis of sex trafficking and specifically a crisis of child sex trafficking.  But the evidence to support this claim, when you dig into it even a little bit, turns out to be a ziggurat of garbled statistics, junk social science and outright lies.  My friend Maggie McNeill has devoted an entire page to debunking claims that are so common and oft-repeated, they are taken as gospel: that the average age at which a woman enters sex work is 13 (it’s mid-20’s); that there are 300,000 child sex slaves in the US (there are at most a few hundred), that sex trafficking and consensual sex work are inextricably linked (they aren’t); that the Super Bowl or other big events are magnets for sex traffickers (not at all).  It goes without saying that forced sexual servitude is an abomination…but if that’s what you’re concerned about, it seems like a good first step would be to decriminalize sex work for adults, as organizations like Amnesty International have advocated.  Doing so would free up law enforcement resources to work the real problem rather than being devoted entirely to routine prostitution busts.

Let’s illustrate that with one example: about every year, the federal government runs a program called Operation Cross Country — a vast multi-agency operation to crack down on “sex trafficking”, at the end of which they will claim to have rescued something on the order a hundred underage sex slaves (which alone should tell us that we do not have anywhere close to 300,000 of them).  Elizabeth Nolan Brown has done amazing work sifting through the propaganda and found that these operations typically arrest over a thousand consenting adults.  Mixed in with those adults are usually a few dozen to a hundred underage sex workers, but most of these are doing it not because of enslavement but because they have run away or been thrown out of their homes).  The operations also arrest a couple of hundred “pimps” but these are often people whose pimping consists of driving their girlfriend to an incall or processing credit card payments…

…I have seen how the case for prohibition is supported by lies…[which is] what has drawn me into this debate so keenly.  It offends me as a scientist…FOSTA was ostensibly proposed to allow the federal government to crack down on online sex trafficking.  This promise was predicated, like most of the War on Sex Work, on dubious stats.  Sex workers vehemently opposed it but their voices were drowned out by supporters misrepresenting the law and celebrities making bizarre claims like ordering a sex slave was as easy as ordering a pizza…Sex Worker rights advocates, digital freedom advocates and libertarians made dire predictions about what was going to happen…So what has happened over the last three months?  Exactly what was feared…and as the weeks have rolled on, it has become painfully and immediately obvious that FOSTA has made things far far worse for sex workers…what FOSTA has done…[is] just as bad as the sex worker advocates warned us it would be…

…wars on sin have often engaged in what I call “harm enhancement” (as opposed to “harm reduction”).  During the War on Drugs, we banned the sale of certain chemicals to Colombia that were used to facilitate drug manufacturing; the result was drugs that had carcinogens in them, which politicians hoped would persuade people to stop using them.  A similar controversy erupted over paraquat pot, herbicides sprayed on marijuana that found that their way into people’s lungs.  During prohibition, industrial alcohols were deliberately poisoned in an effort to stop people from drinking them.  And there is little doubt that the War on Sex Work has frequently seen increased danger as a deterrent.  In many states, a woman simply having condoms on her is considered evidence of prostitution.  Sex workers have reported being pulled over by cops and watching them poke holes in condoms.  The closure of MyRedBook and Rentboy and Backpage did little to stop sex work but plenty to prevent sex workers from screening out dangerous clients.  When a movement engages in policy after policy designed to increase the danger, I think it it reasonable to assume that it is deliberate…this even goes beyond sex work, however.  Our political class has long had a hatred for Section 230 of the CDA, which they see as protecting speech they don’t like.  The last year has been filled with attacks on Facebook and other social media for allowing “fake news” to percolate (the effect of which is very unclear).  The effects of this bill go even beyond the impact on sex workers, bad as that has been.  It is the camel’s nose in the tent of undermining Section 230 and turning the internet into a “safe”, controlled, gated, milquetoast community.  And what better way to get the camel’s nose in the tent than through “solving” a vastly exaggerated crisis?…

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When we come back, we come back stronger.  –  Kristen DiAngelo

Surplus Women 

Politicians won’t even wait for a whore’s body to be cold before launching vile attacks on her community:

Just a few hours before the march…in memory of [Eunice, a Nigerian sex worker] who was mortally stabbed on…5 June, the Committee of Brussels’s Alhambra District…speaks…in favor of…prostitution tolerance zones…and of a building complex to shelter…prostitutes’ shop windows…The Alhambra Committee [claims] that it is not against prostitution, but rather against the disturbance it causes in a residential district…“We can accept several independent prostitutes ‘working’ in the neighborhood, but it is difficult not to notice the Rumanian-Bulgarian-Albanian-Hungarian mafia installed on our streets since 2005″…the…Committee…[also stated] that they are favorable to police control of clients…[and] denounces the fact that [activists are against this ghetto because]…prostitutes without official papers could not work there…

Dehumanization, racism, end demand garbage, scare quotes around “working” and a bottleneck to keep “dirty foreigners” out.  They didn’t even include her name, just called her “a prostitute”.  But they’re not against sex work, no sir!

Broken Record 

Hysteria is like a disease; it spreads among friend & foe alike:

Even though prostitution is illegal in Russia, there are around three million regular sex workers in the country, according to activist group Silver Rose.  Until recently, the group says, the police had turned a blind eye to the practice or taken kickbacks.  But with hundreds of thousands of tourists descending on Russia for the World Cup, the authorities are [purging as “authorities” always do before such events]…this means frequent raids on well-known prostitution sites…Despite the authorities’ efforts, though, [prohibitionists fantasize] that the relaxed visa regime introduced to simplify travel to Russia during the tournament is encouraging illegal trafficking of women.  As Yulia Siluyanova of Alternativa, a Moscow-based [prohibitionist] organization, put it, “The World Cup is a gift for traffickers”…

Under Every Bed

Is it just me, or are “sex trafficking is EVERYWHERE!” articles beginning to sound very tired?

Some Central Texans are taking a stand against sex trafficking…the T.S.O.Y., Texas Save Our Youth organization, held a meeting…to [indoctrinate] the public…[in bogus] statistics, [fantasies] of trafficking and warning signs like strategically placed tattoos…The U.S. is the number one producer and consumer of sex trafficking in the world, and Texas is in the top three states in the country.

Bottleneck (#638)

“Licensing” is one of the ways governments try to surreptitiously ban things:

The state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums…to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution.  Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, have reportedly shut down to avoid prosecution.  Reuters reports: Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license.  Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year.  Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech…Government officials [pretend] the new rules are aimed at tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying and pornography

Does that list of “crimes” justifying censorship sound familiar?

Morality Lessons (#689)

In which the FBI running an actual child porn site is called “law enforcement ingenuity”:

…we spearhead and coordinate massive nationwide and international operations to disrupt and destroy child exploitation networks….these…are most successful only when we can rely on our close partnerships with the many federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental partners here today.  Operation Pacifier was a prime example.  In that case, we…[took over] a highly sophisticated, global enterprise on the dark web called “Playpen,” where users exchanged tens of thousands of postings relating to the sexual abuse of children – even, revoltingly, children as young as infants and toddlers.  Operation Pacifier was a model of law enforcement ingenuity.  Agents identified and seized the “Playpen” server, which gave the FBI a very short window of time to [keep running it as normal]…to identify site users…

Your regular reminder that the word for a “partnership” between political and corporate interests is “fascism”.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#743) 

Another sighting of the “sex trafficking” fetishist who masturbates to the fantasy that emojis in low-rent escort ads are part of some mysterious pimp “code”:

“Human trafficking is a business,” said Jessica Whitney, “where people are treated as inventory”…Whitney [fantasizes] that traffickers use certain language and emojis (symbols) to appeal to certain buyers.  They market the girls — by age, race, skin color, “new in town” (i.e. limited time only) — as a retailer positions its products.  In fact, victims are often forced to write their own customized ads.  The [fantasy] doesn’t relent…

The Course of a Disease (#757)

Israeli prohibitionists ladle FOSTA slop on top of an already-bad anti-whore bill:

The state is petitioning the courts to remove five Israeli prostitution websites from the internet…[clients careless enough to be] caught [in pig stings] within three years of the first offense will pay doubled the original fine, according to the draft legislation…[Injustice Minister Ayelet] Shaked had decided that customers would be pursued through administrative rather than criminal enforcement: the offender would not be considered a criminal with a criminal record…The minister [bloviated] that the draft bill fining customers is…part of a wider plan she intends to bring before government in the months to come…Meanwhile…the Knesset approved a bill banning advertisement of prostitutes…for the first time, the prohibition will apply to the printing shop that printed the ad…offending internet sites and phone numbers involved in promoting prostitution services could be blocked…

Surprised how fast mass censorship is taking hold? We did warn you.

Devil’s Advocate (#761) 

Your periodic reminder that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

The U.S. House approved a ban…on the importation and trafficking of anatomically correct child sex dolls…that [perverts wrongly claim] “normalize sex between adults and minors…These dolls can be programmed to simulate rape. The very thought makes me [excited]” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte…“Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child”…[fantasized bill sponsor] Dan Donovan…The proposal [imagines] the…dolls…“can resemble actual children”…Goodlatte [pretended to be] “distraught” that…child sex dolls even exist…“Customers can order bespoke dolls, providing pictures of specific children they would like the doll to resemble.  They can indicate a preferred facial expression such as sadness or fear”…

Even in the world of anti-sex propaganda, this bill and article are egregious.  They express psychologically-illiterate fantasies and scare-claims in declarative sentences, and make assertions that are not only untrue, but calculated to demonize the buyers of such dolls (eg, the last sentence).  I also remind you of the McNeill Rule.

Feminine Pragmatism (#778) 

One day, reporters will get that “People Work To Make Money” is not news:

…in Colombia’s border city of Cucuta…Venezuelan sex workers…now [do a fairly ordinary job] to support themselves and their families…About 672,000 Venezuelans have crossed into neighbouring Colombia alone, both legally and illegally, since 2015…The exodus from the oil-rich country is the largest migration of people in South America’s recent history, and it shows little signs of abating.  For some, sex work is [a reasonable, practical] option…

The Widening Gyre (#811)

Lenore Skenazy is doing great work reporting on these absurd “sex trafficking” panics:

Here’s [a] mom’s Facebook post:  “we are driving home from Cincinnati and got off at a rest stop for a quick bathroom break.  Just my daughter and I went inside…some lady who appeared to be on something, was trying to talk to my daughter…I heard…her say “the little girl” [to another woman]…As we leave I passed both women and the one that I originally saw had changed clothes and started to leave…I then made a dead sprint to the car, threw my daughter in and locked doors.  Once we were safely in car I noticed 3 men standing in front of a gold minivan with all the doors open…I have this terrible feeling that had I not been aware…my daughter may have been taken from me“…stranger danger is so rare that even the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children…has asked people to stop using the term.  And David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, told me he had heard of no children ever abducted from their parents in public for sex trafficking purposes…A media organization uncritically promoting this hysteria is…reckless journalism…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#834) 

Lewis & her friends are fools; what they want is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

[A small group of] New Zealand sex workers have written an open letter…asking for the election of a Minister of Prostitution.  The letter also rejects the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) as the representative organisation of sex workers here, and attacks the collective’s support for illegal sex workers.  The letter by Hamilton sex worker Lisa Lewis carries 25 other names…In an unlikely alliance, the letter was written with the help of [conservative Christian group] Family First…Lewis said… “Prostitution needs to be governed in New Zealand.  If there is a legislation, there should be a Minister.”  The letter claimed migrants coming on temporary visas to work as prostitutes were “taking money off legal sex workers, not paying tax and going home with the money …NZPC’s current focus is legalising internationals to be allowed to provide commercial sexual services here in New Zealand and no legal New Zealand sex worker wants this”…Family First is highly critical of the Prostitution Reform Act and is calling for a Nordic model…

I am reminded of the fable, “The Frogs Who Desired a King”.

Choke Point (#839) 

Useful idiots are unable to understand how precedent works:

Several gun-related businesses were suddenly — and without warning — disrupted in recent weeks when Intuit stopped processing credit card payments because phone and internet sales were gun-related…Some of the payments stopped didn’t even involve firearms, but simply T-shirts and coffee mugs and gun safety classes…As a result, the businesses had to scramble to track down customers to get them pay their bills after Intuit credited back to customers’ accounts the purchases — even if the T-shirt was already shipped or the class already taken…

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers or gun owners, but never stops there.

Disaster (#839)

I’ve never seen anything galvanize public support for sex workers like FOSTA has:

After…SESTA-FOSTA…organizing around sex workers has been reinvigorated with a new urgency.  The legislation…cripples sex workers’ ability to work safely online.  It’s merely the latest example in an unbroken history of harmful anti-sex work laws.  But at a time when activism…is all the more crucial…SESTA-FOSTA…[is] silencing and criminalizing the very organizing and advocacy that would help sex workers stay safe and fight persecution, even chilling journalists’ efforts to cover these issues…In one poignant example of how these laws harm advocacy, the Desiree Alliance Conference — the largest U.S. gathering addressing human, labor, and civil rights for workers in the sex industry — announced that it will not take place this year due to fears surrounding SESTA-FOSTA…

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The moral of this story is don’t call the cops.  –  Janus Cassandra

Another video demonstrating the awesomeness of what segregationists decry as “cultural appropriation”, provided by Emma Evans.  The links above it were contributed by Franklin HarrisJesse Walker (x2), Brooke MagnantiMarc Randazza, and Scott Greenfield (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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