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Posts Tagged ‘harm reduction’

The rescue industry is a deeply misogynistic enterprise which…polices the behaviour of women under the guise of saving us.  –  Eleanor Janega

Real People 

The more sex workers come out like this, the better for everyone:

The people that make the porn that a lot of us watch are sick of you pretending that you’re better than them.  Michele James especially is sick of it.  “We are cast out into the shadows…if I could bring a person who didn’t do sex work on set for a day, for them to see what we actually go through, they would realize it’s a job too and we deserve respect, the same as CEOs, and everybody else who goes to work 9-5.”  James…sees part of her responsibility to the industry she loves is helping to destigmatize the performers who make it…she is passionate about her industry; and she gives exactly zero fucks what you think about that…

Moloch 

How many kids need to be sacrificed to this obscenity before it’s enough?

A…High School student in the Florida Keys is facing 15 years in prison and life as a registered sex offender for continuing to date his 15-year-old girlfriend after he turned 18 in December…numerous people, including the girl’s parents, his parents and two sheriff’s office deputies, [warned] Tucker [that the shamans of the booga-booga gods would be angry he was violating the Shazam magic, but] the two continued to see each other…[and] the girl’s mother [decided to destroy her] relationship [with her daughter by ratting them out to] the…school [pig]…cops [then eavesdropped on a private conversation and congratulated themselves for destroying a young man’s life]…

The Crumbling Dam (#739) 

Seattle’s vocal harm magnification community is still going strong:

[Shilo] Jama has spent his career advocating for drug users.  With his work at the [People’s Harm Reduction Alliance], he runs syringe distribution sites, including a drop-in site in the U District…They have a nurse practitioner on site who prescribes medications like Suboxone, which helps with withdrawal symptoms…Over the years, Jama has helped countless people who use drugs, but his efforts aren’t exactly appreciated by everyone.  In December, flyers featuring a photograph of his face started popping up in the University District and elsewhere in North Seattle…The flyer accuses Jama (who legally changed his last name from Murphy a few years ago to honor the family that raised him) of “enabling and encouraging harmful behavior that has caused many deaths”…The flyer claims that Jama, his organization, and the U District needle distribution site are a danger to the public, but according to public health experts, harm reduction projects like Jama’s do reduce overdose deaths and other public health issues…The flyer also says that the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle City Council are “almost powerless” to prosecute Jama and lists a phone number for the FBI’s Seattle office, encouraging people to call and report him…Jama…suspects [the source] was members of Safe Seattle, an organization that, among other issues, advocates against safe injection sites…

The Notorious Badge (#760)

This does a good job of synopsizing my discomfort with The Deuce:

The Deuce uses its promise to reveal the behind-closed-doors happenings of sex work to argue relentlessly for the regulation and oversight of the industry…it is nervous about the way it represents sex work, anxious to inform but not to titillate.  In pinpointing…sex-work…as a “secret,” however, and then exposing it through a surveillance-cum-safety structure, the show satisfies an intellectual craving for knowledge that echoes the pleasures of pornography…[it] takes care to pat viewers on the back, framing their pleasure as different from that of the porn viewer.  Through gridline-marked shots of pornography in the making, for example, The Deuce allows viewers to indulge in pornographic voyeurism under the guise of cautionary surveillance.  At the same time, it frames their viewing position as a sanctimonious one…

“Regulation and oversight” = “legalization”, which only politicians and cops want.  Sex workers, human rights groups, medical groups and academics who have studied our work all recognize decriminalization, not “regulation” by outsiders, as the best model for everyone.

Checklist (#811)

Despite some pandering to “sex trafficking” beliefs, this isn’t a bad article about “signs of sex trafficking” indocrination:

…every year…ahead of the Super Bowl…anti-prostitution [crusaders]…campaign [to indocrinate]…everyone from hospitality employees to Uber drivers…in…anti-[sex worker propaganda such as the claim that]…as many as 40.3 million people were “in modern slavery in 2016”, up more than 5 million compared to five years ago.  And in 2014, the 35.8 figure rose by 6 million people in just a year…the…figures are so alluringly extreme [because profiteers]…are often under pressure from poli[tician]s into producing overestimated figures…crusades of this nature are not…concerned with accuracy, as appearing to be leading the charge against [consensual sex]…hotel chains like Marriott have been reported as looking out for women travelling alone and sexually provocative clothing as signs of…sex…[work, which makes it clear that] consenting adult sex workers [are]…being targeted…

Unfortunately, Lyft may not be a safe alternative to Uber for much longer:

…we are working to help raise awareness and taking action to prevent human trafficking.  Through partnerships with [prohibitionist] organizations like…Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), we are [indoctrinating] drivers…on how to spot [escorts] and [rat them out to the pigs]…

Original Sin (#824) 

A new statement from a man who says men who seek consensual sex with women are “criminals with a sick mentality”:

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves…his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.  It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.  He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on”…

Rooted in Racism (#854)

More European government humanitarianism to “fight human trafficking”:

…[it has been] two years since Italy, backed by the EU, did a deal to spend tens of millions of euros funding the Libyan coastguard, which intercepts boats heading for Italy and returns refugees and migrants to a war zone…detainees in nine different detention centres…use hidden phones to reveal what’s going on at huge risk to themselves.  EU [politicians] continue to promote the idea that arrivals in Europe  and deaths at sea are dropping.  But…thousands of men, women, and children…speak of going days without food and of drinking toilet water to survive.  Some have stopped speaking, forgotten their families, sit crouched in a corner and wet themselves from trauma…Couples are separated – some of the roughly 640 detained children are held with their mothers, though those over 14 are kept in adult cells…infected detainees are locked with others in a dark room and have been repeatedly left without tuberculosis medication…In October, a 28-year-old Somali set himself on fire…after saying he saw no other way out.  In early January dozens of refugees and migrants, brought by the coastguard to the Libyan port city of Khoms, were forced back to smugglers by Libyan [cops]…[and] now risk torture if they can’t raise an the $5,000 ransom that has already been demanded…

Feminine Pragmatism (#891) 

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

Increasing numbers of public sector workers are [making the pragmatic decision] to [do] sex work due to austerity measures and welfare cuts…a leading campaigning group…says more women in public sector roles are doing sex work to top up their income due to employers making no allowances for the fact they have children…the organisation, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), [has] release[d] a new report comparing sex work with other jobs commonly done by women.  The report found sex workers earn significantly more per hour than women working in the other jobs – including those in public sector positions such as nurses and midwives.  Women cited higher wages as their primary reason for entering the sex industry…

Case Study (#892) 

One day, reporters will get that “people sublet flats” is not news:

A special constable and his Hungarian wife have been jailed for [rent]ing [flats to] women from Hungary [in] a Chelsea apartment block [nicknam]ed “10 Floors of Whores”.  Karl Ring and Ivett Szuda…[arranged sex workers’ travel on] the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air to fly women into London from Budapest as they made more than £600,000 [over several years] from [subletting flats]…Szuda…[will be locked in a cage] for six and a half years, while Ring…[will be] locked up for four years…the couple [charged sex workers 50% of their fees, a fairly typical rate for brothels]…Judge Robin Johnson [bloviated a lot of pompous, moralistic nonsense about “exploitation”, ignoring the fact that] the sex workers were happy with the arrangement…

Feminine Pragmatism (#896) 

The villains here aren’t imaginary “trafficking rings”; they’re the fucking politicians who force desperate people to deal with criminals to have a chance to escape hell:

Traffickers are targeting desperate young women in Venezuela by flying them to the Costas to [do lucrative, flexible work]…at least 208,000 have fled the crisis-hit country in the hope of a better life in Spain.  Nearly all of those have travelled on official three month tourists visas which are readily available as Venezuela was once a Spanish colony.  However, a flight costs £1,000 which is a fortune in a land where a cup of coffee costs a month’s wages thanks to hyperinflation of 80,000 per cent…This is when the heartless trafficking gangs of Caracas are stepping in and [giving people a chance to escape despite politicians’ efforts to keep them trapped in Venezuela]…SICAR Cat, a religious organisation that pro[fits from hysteria over]…sex trafficking, [pretends these women are ignorant children who don’t know what sex work is, and calls their jobs]…modern day slavery…Venezuela’s economic mix of unemployment, poverty and inflation has created the perfect conditions for [mass emigration] to flourish…

These stories sure sound stupid when the hype is replaced by objective language, don’t they?

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#905)

Indian sex workers are chipping away at the prohibitionists’ agency-negating lies:

…four organisations…have released a report which states that close to 77% women voluntarily return to sex work after their rescue into shelter homes…the National Network for Sex Workers Association (NNSWA) and UMKO, Saheli – HIV/RAIDS Karyakarta Sangh, SANGRAM and Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP), have released a report “Raided – How Anti-Trafficking Strategies Increase Sex Workers’ Vulnerability to Exploitative Practices”…79% of the women documented in the study returned to sex work – “escaping” their rescue from shelter homes, while almost 11% of the women continued to live in these homes…Kusum, President [of the] All India Network of Sex Workers explained the “horrific” condition of shelter homes and why women want to escape it…“There is no food to eat, and when there is food it is insect infested which makes people sick.  No health care to take care of inhabitants…and even if that was provided the stigma that exists towards HIV persons within these homes is bad enough to kill someone well before their time”…the report contests the…present understanding that most women in the flesh trade are trafficked women ‘pushed into prostitution’…These homes manifest an environment of isolation and deprive the women of identity and income…

The Indian media is so thoroughly brainwashed by prohibitionists that even in an article citing statistics debunking prohibitionist mythology, the reporter feels compelled to put the word “escape” (from a literal prison) in scare quotes, and also scare-quotes the word “horrific” (used to describe conditions any decent person would agree are horrific), while omitting scare quotes from the word “rescue” when used to mean “arrest”.  He also uses “live in” to mean “remain imprisoned in”, and “present understanding” to mean “popular myth”.  It’s going to be a long, uphill battle.

Pyrrhic Victory (#906) 

Please, masters, don’t use this tool we made you in exactly the way it was designed to be used“:

Amazon unveiled new proposed guidelines…for any national legislation regulating facial recognition technology…civil rights groups and privacy advocates…criticized Amazon’s Rekognition contracts with law enforcement agencies, [absurdly concentrating on the] point…that the technology has misidentified people of color [rather than recognizing that high accuracy is even worse for privacy]…Amazon…responded [with the lie that]…”In the two-plus years we’ve been offering Amazon Rekognition, we have not received a single report of misuse by law enforcement”…The proposals from Amazon focus mainly on ensuring that law enforcement uses the technology [to surveil citizens more] effectively and without [being less able to identify] minorities.  “New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse,” Amazon said in [typical tech-geek morally imbecilic fashion]…”Instead, the…[overlords] should be [free to do whatever they like]…and…that the[ir ability to oppress the citizens with the] technology…is continuously enhanced.”  Amazon said any national legislation should ensure facial recognition technology [is profitable for]…Amazon…and…governments [alike]…

A Woman’s Point of View (#912) 

Kaytlin Bailey responds to drama some want to whip up against “Decriminalize Sex Work”:

We are disappointed in [Emily Shugerman’s] editorial choice to focus on Rob Kampia in your February 3rd, 2019 [Daily Beast] article titled, “Rob Kampia Weed Activist With #MeToo Past, Is Now Pushing Sex Work Reform”.  By focusing on Rob’s past instead of our efforts to decriminalize sex work, you reduced a rich and vibrant movement to one man’s conduct.  You have also diminished the contributions of the women on our team, who have devoted decades to this cause in order to center the only man among our directors.  You minimized our accomplishments and our mission by publishing a piece that misrepresents not only our organization but the entire sex worker rights movement…whose voices are historically absent from all media reporting.  Yet, you wrote about Rob…To call our life’s work a “vanity project”…is an insult and a willful misrepresentation of who we are, what we’ve accomplished, and what we’re trying to do.  To suggest that allowing Rob Kampia to use his extensive network of donors and political resources to further our work is a betrayal of the sex worker rights movement is to minimize the diversity and breadth of this work, and to minimize the need for change.  We can focus on Rob, or we can talk about the immense harms of criminalization…

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Efforts to abolish sex work…since the 1860s have one thing in common—failure!  –  Paul J. Maginn, Raven Bowen, and Maggie O’Neill

Not So Different

If amateur women weren’t so busy trying to ruin sex workers’ lives, they could learn a lot from us:

…Why don’t more people outside the sex industry organize against the dangers of sexual or intimate abuse in the way that sex workers do?  It’s not because sex workers have more resources or support.  In part, it’s because so many women outside the sex industry still believe that [women] are responsible for the abuses committed against them because they stepped outside of respectable behavior and “should have known better”.  Sex-work communities are often more resilient against these messages…Sex-worker feminism shows us that our safety and freedom should never be conditional, and that we have to come together—on the corner, online, at marches, and beyond—to prevent sexual abuse and resist its insidious effects on us…

Scapegoats 

Why doesn’t this say what kind of animal? A goat? A bitch? A hen? An iguana? A carp? A sea urchin? A cockroach?

A Bossier City [cop]…has been arrested for filming himself having sex with an animal…Terry…Yetman’s residence [was searched for undisclosed reasons, possibly involving domestic violence and]…detectives found pornography involving sexual acts with an animal…The investigation is still open and may result in additional charges [if the cops can figure out what kind of animal is involved]…

Fever Dream (#679)

We’re not hearing quite as much of this “highway” bullshit as we used to:

The newly opened Together Cafe…in Chattanooga…is…dedicated to [harassing sex workers]…Every dollar [of profit after the considerable overhead of cafes]…will go toward [creating prohibitionist propaganda]…Chattanooga has become a focal point…for…sex trafficking because of its geographic intersection of Interstates 75, 24 and 59, which provides an easy path for pimps to transport their victims around the Southeast…the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation [repeats the impossible masturbatory fantasy that] that one in four children who run away will be propositioned by a sex trafficker within 48 hours of leaving home and every year 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked for sex…the average age of a child sold for six is 13 years

This is not the first coffee shop “rescue” scam we’ve heard of.  Note that the language about Chattanooga, interstate highways and “pimps” is plagiarized verbatim from pig propaganda at least two years old.

The Crumbling Dam (#849)

I’ll be rather pleased if Philadelphia beats the pompous, priggish politicians of Seattle to the punch:

The international law firm DLA Piper has signed on to represent Safehouse — the nonprofit organization attempting to launch a supervised-injection site in Philadelphia — pro bono…the move gives Safehouse some added clout in the legal fight [against federal prohibitionists]…Although Philadelphia’s mayor and district attorney support the opening of a privately funded supervised-injection site, federal authorities have threatened legal action…DLA Piper’s decision to represent Safehouse “demonstrates there’s an ever-increasing group of lawyers who respectfully disagree with the U.S. Attorney’s position,” said Ronda Goldfein…director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania…DLA Piper, which has offices in 40 countries, is also representing the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma…[against a nuisance lawsuit] brought by New Jersey’s attorney general over its marketing of…Oxycontin…

The Widening Gyre (#851)

This article by three academic allies covers a lot of ground, but starts here:

In 2015 British journalist Suzanne Moore wrote a piece lavishing praise on US hip-hop star Nicki Minaj…the…piece…celebrated Minaj’s agency and hypersexuality…[yet] Moore…shudders at the idea that women—especially middle-class women—would engage in real forms of sex work…she…seems to be[lieve] that sex workers come from lower-class backgrounds and lack agency, business acumen and even intellectuality…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#863)

Indian sex workers’ fight against a terrible new “anti-trafficking” bill is drawing international attention:

…Days after it passed in the lower house of India’s Parliament in July, two United Nations experts said the bill leans too heavily on the criminal justice system.  Without more of a “human-rights based and victim-centred approach,” the UN special rapporteurs on human trafficking and modern slavery warned, India “risks further harming already vulnerable individuals”…In major Indian cities like Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Sangli, sex workers are well organised and politically engaged.  Yet no sex worker groups were consulted during the drafting of the legislation…[which like all “sex trafficking” laws] promotes a dangerous idea that everyone in the sex trade is either a victim or a criminal…

The Widening Gyre (#874) 

The more cops are forced to deny “sex trafficking” scary tales, the harder it will be for them to spread such tales themselves:

Posts on Facebook are spreading quickly, claiming women are attempting to lure other people into sex trafficking at stores in the Mid-South…Memphis [Tennessee] and Southaven [Mississippi] police…said no one has made any official reports…One woman [claimed] she was shopping at…Walmart…when she was approached by two women inside the store…[who] the[n]…followed her back home…[yet]…she didn’t call police…[an]other post…shows a picture of two women…[and] claims they were trying to lure women into sex trafficking [by] taking pictures [of women, like the poster did]…

The Course of a Disease (#884)

Everyone knows prohibitionists are mathematically illiterate, but I figured they could at least count to ten:

The Knesset is set to pass a landmark law against prostitut[es]  making hiring sex workers a crime…The new law will make Israel the 10th country to institute what is called the “Nordic Model” of [persecuting sex workers]…the law…offers the Justice Ministry the option of instituting other punishments, such as “John Schools,” meant to [indoctri]ate [people in anti-sex propaganda]…The law…[also] budgets NIS 90 million over the next three years for the [brainwashing] of [captured sex workers]…the “Nordic Model” [was] first adopted in Sweden in 1999.  In recent years, others passed similar laws, including Ireland, France, Canada, Norway and some states in the US…

So far, only Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the two Irelands, France and Canada have adopted the Swedish model; that’s seven, plus one is eight.  And no US states have adopted it, though of course that’s among the smaller lies in this authoritarian screed (another claims the average sex worker dies at 46).

The Red Umbrella (#885) 

As long as sex work is marginalized, sex workers will be targeted for violence:

Alexander Popenkov, who is trained as an MMA fighter, and his wife, Maryana Kayumova, both 25, trolled online sex [worker] ads for victims [to] set…up phony appointments…on victims they [knew would]…be easy targets and vulnerable…Popenkov and Kayumova savagely beat and robbed at least eight women [in Manhattan], most of whom are Russian immigrants…[They] were arrested on charges including burglary and robbery and released on $35,000 bond each.  [Prosecutor] Danbee [Kim] asked [Judge Maxwell] Wiley to hike the defendants’ bail to $500,000, arguing that they had threatened numerous victims to discourage them from coming forward…[but] Wiley [refused because their victims were just whores]…

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Even those who mean well are often operating with bullshit information when it comes to figuring out how to help sex workers.  –  Tristan Greene

Where Are the Victims?

In which renting rooms to people in a legal trade is pretended to be a “crime”:

Paul McGrory…sub-let a three bedroom house to prostitutes over a nine month period in 2016…McGrory…charged the women £350 per week for each room…the prosecution [admitted] McGrory was not involved in human trafficking and had not coerced the prostitutes, taken a cut of their earnings or…obtain[ed] clients for the[m, but felt compelled to pontificate that]…”You were not a pimp, but by your activities you have upset the good law abiding people of Argyle Street”…The judge…imposed [60 hours of community service and] three year[s of]…probation…

With Friends Like These…

What kind of warped mind quotes prohibitionist myths while claiming it wants to “help” sex workers?

A recent report from KIRO 7 on sex workers on Seattle’s…Aurora Ave….[gave lip service to] the increased dangers in the profession [created by prohibitionists].  But is there a way the city could actually help?…“Women who experience prostitution have a rate of PTSD that’s twice that of returning war veterans,” [lied prohibitionist] Alisa Bernard…“In a city where we’re going to have safe injection sites, there are not safe places for [street workers] to go to exchange money for sex,” said The Ron and Don Show’s Don O’Neill on KIRO Radio…“I know that kids sometimes become sex slaves.  I know those stories…The johns want to be left alone, and the prostitutes want to be left alone, so why not tax it?…Why not make sure that they are safe?  If they want a way out, why not help them with a way out?”…

The popular myth that sex workers don’t pay taxes is probably one of the most subtly damaging ones.

No Difference 

Statists tell us that the slippery slope is a “fallacy”:

[Ugandan] model and socialite Judith Heard was asked to pay $3,000 in blackmail money to stop her stolen nude selfies being published online…she…didn’t pay up and…her…photos…were [published]…followed by a warrant for her arrest…under Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Act…the Ugandan…Pornography Control Committee (PCC)…issue[s] arrest warrants for…women who[se]…nude pictures and sex tapes [a]re shared online without their consent…PCC chair Annette Kezaabu…[bloviated] “We know that she took this photo privately, but…why did she take it in the first place?…Where do we want to see Uganda in the next 50 years? Do we want to be led by perverts?”…She said the government’s “eventual aim is to have no footage of sex or nudity on TV whatsoever,” and that the committee intends to “go after” pop stars who wear revealing clothing…

Traffic in Nonsense

Since Quickel’s “Vigilante Truckers” got out-competed by “Truckers Against Trafficking”, he apparently decided to rebrand:

The organization Vigilante Truth [cl]aims…sex trafficking…is a growing epidemic in Charlotte…North Carolina…“We’re not law enforcement,” said Bo Quickel, the owner of Vigilante Truth, “we’re just citizens out here trying to [profit from] the [hysteria by spreading myths to] the public”…Quickel…explained [that women are so stupid we can’t take selfies or run a business on our own, so]…“there’s somebody else there taking the picture…and that person’s always going to be a pimp, a trafficker, a handler…none of them get any of the money, so it’s all about forced coercion, fraud, blackmail”…

Even by “sex trafficking” standards, Quickel’s misogyny is outrageous; all of his propaganda presents women as inert vegetables.  Once he even compared us to bottles of laundry detergent.

Virtual Unreality 

Why do “futurists” prefer to make ignorant statements about sex work rather than consulting sex workers?

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford [fantasizes] that autonomous cars will usher in…a new paradigm for sex workers…within a few years – a decade, tops…they could provide a safe place for people to be alone in public…there are obvious reasons why sex workers shouldn’t visit client’s homes under most circumstances, or allow them to visit theirs…Driverless cars provide a solution…both the non-participating public and those engaging in sex work could benefit from a paradigm that keeps prostitutes out of seedy motels and off the sidewalks by putting them on the streets, inside warm cars full of security features and snacks…

Though the writer clearly means well (and even quotes yours truly), he’s too caught up in this silly fantasy to see the gaping holes in it.  First, there’s the typical belief that street workers are common, when in fact less than 10% of us work that way (and that number was shrinking before the US government started intentionally destroying advertising venues).  The “obvious reasons” why we “shouldn’t” do outcalls or incalls aren’t “obvious” to either me or the very large number of escorts in the developed world, making this a solution in search of a problem for us.  Robot cars have 27% higher rates of rider motion sickness than human-piloted vehicles, meaning some 6-10% of riders, and there would be no way to be sure that their insides were not full of hidden surveillance devices; in any regime where sex work was not 100% decriminalized, robot cars could lock their doors and transport both sex worker and client to the nearest pigpen.  And though these futurists tout such vehicles as “safer” for sex workers, imagine trying to escape a violent client in an area too small to get out of his grip which is also going at 100 kph down a motorway.  It’s rare that an epigram I choose is so correct, yet so ironic in context.

Full of Themselves (#807) 

As I predicted, it looks like Rubmaps may become the new prohibitionist bogeyman to replace Backpage:

Many San Diego Massage parlors are offering [happy endings]…and [yellow journalists] found [what wasn’t hidden:] a public website…[named] “RubMaps” [which] publishes reviews for massage parlors…[there are] 243…listed in San Diego County and, according to the reviews on the website, 173 of those parlors offer sex services…An online company statement [reeks of terror that it will be targeted, parrots “sex trafficking” hysteria and obsequiously promises to lick cop boots]…16 of the 173 parlors that are allegedly offering sex services…are within 1,000 feet of a public school…

Sex rays! Pearl-clutching! Bootlicking! Pretending reviews are a new thing! So much filth in so few words.

Pyrrhic Victory (#814) 

Another step toward the end of privacy, everywhere:

Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool:  “gait recognition” software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras.  Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, “gait recognition” is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is [not] raising [anywhere near enough] concern about how far the technology will go.  Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters…away, even with their back turned or face covered…“Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body”…Security officials in China’s far-western province of Xinjiang, a region whose Muslim population is already subject to intense surveillance and control, have expressed interest in the software…

Welcome To Our World (#853)

Locking pregnant women in cages for “trafficking” themselves.  Had enough yet?

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police arrested 15 people related to surrogacy who were together in a house in Sen Sok district.   Eleven of the persons…are surrogate mothers, two cooks for the ladies, and two unspecified men…the detainees were sent to the Anti-Human Trafficking Office for [interrogation]…

Whither Canada? (#860)

Why do journalists with the facts in front of them feel compelled to cede ground to prohibitionist lies?  Why do they keep repeating the blatant lie that Canada’s Swedish Model Plus was “meant to protect sex workers” when we have reams of data, including the clear and on-the-record statements of politicians, that exactly the opposite is true?  This law was not intended to “protect” sex workers; it was intended to exterminate us:

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that on several occasions I’ve tweeted GoFundMe appeals for homeless sex workers, organized by a close friend of mine who does street outreach.  Recently, I asked her to write something for me so that in future, I can point back to it to explain who it is I’m asking charity for.  This lady is a Seattle sex worker who is well-known in our community, but prefers to remain anonymous for her activism.  If you’d like to help her out (because she does 95% of this out of her own pocket), please let me know and I’ll arrange a way for you to donate to her important work.

Like so many things in this industry, it started with Kristen D’Angelo, who contacted me because her friend from Sacremento had a daughter living in Seattle.  Kristen’s friend was concerned his daughter was working on the streets and was hoping to get someone to check on her; she (let’s call her Jess) was homeless, using drugs, and working on Aurora Avenue.  Maggie and I ended up taking her out for dinner.  More than anything, she was surprised that instead of being met with judgement and Jesus, she was met by peers with compassion and kindness (along with some screening tips for seeing clients).  Shortly thereafter, I found out an acquaintance of mine had lost her housing, and she and her boyfriend were living out of their car.  I would go see her once, occasionally twice, a week, bringing lunch or dinner, and we would eat together and talk.  After a couple visits I starting meeting some of the people that they had befriended in their time on the streets.  I was struck by the situations of the women there.  To see women so vulnerable was terrifying…but I wasn’t sure what I could do.  I asked them: what do you need?  How can I help?  While I don’t have a tremendous surfeit of disposable income, I could certainly spend $100 a week buying food for people that badly needed it.  So I did.

Simultaneously, I was keeping in (more sporadic) contact with Jess.  It wasn’t long before I was heading up to Aurora once a week (give or take) as well.  Eventually I was out two or three nights a week talking to young women from Aurora to Belltown to SoDo, both in the jungle and working the streets.  I found myself out at 7pm, 10pm, or midnight walking through the city, talking to people.  Instead of being in Greenlake or Madrona, I found myself in places with appellations like the Batcave and Clowntown; I was under the viaduct and in tent cities along the highway.  Within this world, it takes time to earn trust; there are always, to this day, some women that refuse to talk to me or that I have met five times but act as if they don’t know me…and that’s fine.  For the ones that do talk, I hand out condoms and Narcan.  I bring jackets, food, toiletries, clean socks, and camping propane tanks.  I take girls to Planned Parenthood for panel tests; to emergency shelters; to drop them off at detox.  Many of them, if you asked, would not identify as a sex workers, and if you called them a sex worker, you might get punched in the face.  But, if you said, “if you give me a blowjob, you can sleep in my tent tonight.”  Well, that’s an easy yes!!  Whether they identify as sex workers or not, they know when they see me that religion isn’t coming into the conversation and I am not going to tell them what they should do or have to do.  Giving these women autonomy in their decision-making is very important; even when, in my opinion, they may make a terrible choice, it’s theirs to make and I won’t try to take that away from them.  Similarly, none of the things I hand out have strings attached; the only rules are I will not give out cash or buy drugs.

When I meet women that are open to talking, I may make some harm reduction suggestions or ask them what they need.  Much of the time, I listen.  Many of these women have suffered extensive trauma, have drug abuse issues (the desire to anesthetize a terrible situation is strong), or have mental health problems – or all three.  In addition, there is the pervasive sense of hopelessness that comes with being utterly marginalized and, in effect, thrown away by society; just having someone listen and acknowledge you can be significant.  It definitely isn’t the easiest volunteer path I could have taken.  There have been multiple calls from girls that have been raped, assaulted, or robbed.  I helped a girl that had been thrown out of a moving car by a client, and another girl that was pistol-whipped by her boyfriend.  I’ve Narcan’d people through countless overdoses (if anyone ever needs to be resuscitated – I am a fucking pro).  I’ve been hung up on by police when calling 9-1-1 for help and been told by the paramedics that they “can’t” go where they are needed.  I’ve stepped over dead bodies and had rats the size of Boston Terriers leisurely swagger over my toes.

The other side is that there are happier stories.  I paid out my own pocket for a girl to go to rehab because I believed in her when no one else did; she completed 90 days of treatment and moved back to her parent’s house in Minnesota.  That was over a year ago and she is still clean and sober.  Two girls had been living in and out of motels on Aurora and we worked together to get them into a low-income apartment; two other girls saw what they did and decided they could do it too.  I’ve acted as an advocate for a girl that was brutally raped by a prominent Seattleite; I connected her with a lawyer and could not have been happier for her when she got a ridiculously large settlement.  Money didn’t make the PTSD disappear, but it certainly put her in a situation where she could take time and heal.  Unfortunately, the stories with (ahem) happy endings are exceptionally few and far between; the emotional labor can be intense, overwhelming, and exhausting.  I’ve asked myself more than once why I’m not walking dogs at the Humane Society, and I have spent more hours than I can count crying on Maggie’s couch.  But I very strongly believe that everyone needs some help now and then; if I can help someone make a more informed decision or turn a corner, then it’s worth it.

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Why, in discussions about monogamy, do you use the words “harm reduction” or “pressure valve” to characterize the act of seeing a sex worker within an outwardly-monogamous marriage or partnership?

Every person has the right to control their own sexuality and no one else’s.  What this means in a monogamous marriage is that if a partner (nearly always the wife) loses sexual interest, she has the right to refuse sex; she does not, however, have the right to stop her husband from procuring what he needs elsewhere.  But while this is ethically true, most marriage laws take a dim view of so-called “infidelity” even if the only alternative is celibacy.  And even in jurisdictions where the court isn’t supposed to consider “fault”, in fact many judges do, and a husband who is caught “stepping out” is likely to get an even shorter end of the stick than he otherwise would.  Furthermore, marriage is primarily an economic and social arrangement, despite the popular lie that it’s about love and romance; even a sexless marriage may have many benefits, and the husband may wish to remain with his family rather than weather the pain and upheaval of divorce.  So if he’s going to get his sex elsewhere, it’s better for all parties if he does so discreetly, from a qualified professional practicing safe sex who has no interest in him romantically and is highly motivated to keep his secrets, rather than from an unpredictable amateur with questionable hygiene who may get pregnant, become emotionally entangled with him, start making extracontractual demands and otherwise making a mess out of what should’ve been a simple business transaction.  In simpler terms, I call sex work a harm reduction method for monogamy because it is.

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

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[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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Fucking over sex workers is a way [Democrats] can be bipartisan.
– Sean McElwee

Life Imitates Artifice

Prohibitionist tactics remain the same no matter what they’re trying to prohibit:

Members of Congress…held a press conference…to announce a letter signed by 56 GOP lawmakers calling for investigations into a report from discredited anti-choice group Live Action Network accusing Planned Parenthood of covering up child sexual abuse…[this] follows a familiar game plan, including coordination between an anti-choice activist group and Republican lawmakers.  This round of attacks come as the Trump administration looks to reinstate a…restriction blocking federal family planning funds from organizations that provide abortion services in the same location as Title X-funded services…The Live Action report…includes discredited and extensively edited “sting” footage originally reported in 2008 and 2011…

This laudatory article from Christian Post has a bit more meat:

Laura J. Lederer, president of Global Centurion…[fantasized] that abortions and the sex trade are “inextricably linked.”   She recently conducted a study…in which the findings revealed that approximately 30 percent the trafficking victims surveyed reported multiple abortions.  Traffickers would routinely threaten their lives and beat them if they became pregnant, Lederer said.  One survivor whose abuse was especially brutal at the hands of her trafficker “said that she had 17 abortions over the time she was trafficked, all of them at the same clinic”…

I’m honestly surprised that the “forced sex trafficking abortions” myth didn’t become more popular, given the considerable overlap between anti-whore and anti-abortion activism.

Moloch 

Is this idiotic enough yet?  Can we stop now?

…18-year-old Mariea Starr…[of] Waynesboro, Pennsylvania…was caught by another student allegedly performing oral sex on a boy in a school stairwell…Because Starr had turned 18 two months before the incident and the boy she allegedly engaged in oral sex with…was [16, school pig Matthew Gordon]…charged [Starr] with…felony unlawful contact with minors which carries a Tier II sex offender designation…for 25 years, including being photographed by Pennsylvania State Police twice a year…Gordon brought the case without oversight from the district attorney’s office or school district administration because in Pennsylvania [pigs have absolute power to inflict charges on students]…Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal…reduced the charges against Starr to open lewdness.  She was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and will not be placed on the registry.  Nonetheless, Starr will graduate from high school with a criminal record, which will significantly affect her educational and job opportunities…Starr is far from the only student that Gordon…has [fed] into the criminal justice system…

Dirty Laundry

And yet the Times supports the evil of Ruhama, the Magdalene orders’ rebranding:

…220 survivors of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries convened for a state-sponsored meeting in Dublin…The laundries were filled not only with “fallen women” — prostitutes, women who became pregnant out of marriage or as a result of sexual abuse and those who simply failed to conform — but also orphans and deserted or abused children…The Magdalene Laundries were part of an interlocking system of orphanages, industrial schools, “mother and baby homes” for unwed mothers and church-run institutions in which Ireland…confined…At least 10,000 women and girls…between independence from Britain in 1922 and the closing of the last one in 1996…

The Spiral of Absurdity 

Why do reporters repeat this egregious nonsense without fact-checking?

A sting on the sex-trafficking trade in metro Atlanta netted dozens of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children forced into sexual servitude, the FBI announced…Operation Safe Summer was a collaborative effort between the FBI’s Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies…The sting ended with nearly 160 children rescued, including one as young as 3 years old, and nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences…

Really?  If cops had really discovered 160 kids being held hostage, this would be international news, not a minor local story.  Looks to me like some mouthpiece repeated the number of arrests as the number of “rescued children”.

Between the Ears (#407)

Velvet Swing is the first female sex aid that actually works:

…it’s not exactly surprising that [Mistress Matisse] ended up in the cannabis industry…It’s even less surprising that her first product is a weed lube, called Velvet Swing.  While weed lube—rightly touted as the first truly effective female sex aid—is nothing new, Velvet Swing is the first water-soluble version.  Which kind of means it’s the first one that really qualifies for the term weed lube.  Oil-based lubricants are…not condom safe, meaning that products like Foria or Bond Sensual Oil are effectively restricted to people in monogamous partnerships…

And naturally, Matisse uses the interview to wake up pot-business folks to sex worker rights.

Bait and Switch

Entrapment so blatant even a judge couldn’t swallow it:

…In 2014…Skagit County [Washington] detective Theresa Luvera…posted a sex solicitation on Craigslist’s casual encounters…Craigslist’s rules required all participants to be 18+. something that has undermined sex stings in the past…After some online exchanges between the detective and the defendant, the detective claimed she is underage (“almost 15 but waaay advanced”).  Even further in…the detective brought up money-for-sex.  At every step along the way but the end, the defendant seemingly made it clear he was seeking free sex with a female adult.  Eventually the defendant shows up at the designated rendezvous point baitwith the requested items…The trial court dismissed the prosecution because the “State engaged in outrageous misconduct in violation of a defendant’s due process right to fundamental fairness”…Now that Craigslist has shut down its personals section, I’m not clear where law enforcement will conduct its online sex stings…

The Crumbling Dam (#709)

Alas, Seattle “officials” think harm reduction principles only apply to drug use:

Seattle’s efforts to find a location for its…supervised injection site has turned up nothing, and now the mayor’s office is looking to go mobile.  Jeff Sakuma…point person in finding a site…[said] there are no city or county-owned buildings that meet the criteria…the $2 million the council had set aside is to low to purchase an existing building or buy land and build…a private party that could partner with the city to allow the use of their property as an injection site, “could be subject to seizure by the federal government”…As an alternative…Seattle & King County would purchase a recreation[al] vehicle and remodel it…The mobile [unit] would park either on the street or in a parking lot near a facility that would provide space for a reception area, a waiting area, restroom storage and utility space…

Worse Than I Thought (#745)

Another shitty law specifically designed to harm sex workers:

Phoenix is ramping up the penalties for [adult consensual sex] as part of the city’s ongoing effort to curb [adult consensual sex].  The City Council voted…to fine individuals convicted of soliciting sex workers $2,000 for a second offense, $2,250 for a third offense and $2,500 for each additional conviction. The mandatory fines will be in addition to jail sentences of 15-180 days.  “If we catch you … we’re going to make it as unpleasant for you as we possibly can and I don’t feel bad about that at all,” said Councilman Jim Waring, chair of the Phoenix [anti-consensual sex] Task Force…

The Widening Gyre (#764) 

Yeahno.  This still smells like a publicity stunt gone wrong:

British model Chloe Ayling has thanked those who “believed in me from the beginning” after a Polish man was jailed for kidnapping her.  Lukasz Herba held Chloe Ayling captive for six days in a farmhouse near Turin in Italy, after abducting her during what she thought would be a photo shoot last July.  He was arrested after releasing her at the British consulate, and has now been sentenced to 16 years and nine months in jail…Ayling…has always insisted she has told the truth about her captivity.  She told police she never tried to escape because she was terrified and believed Herba’s threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang that was watching her constantly…

Pyrrhic Victory (#836)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data…in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people.  It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments…HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate…face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings.  Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships.  These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias…

Blunt Instrument (#841)

With the demise of Backpage, anti-whore pogroms turn back to low-hanging fruit:

Three indictments were unsealed…alleging massage parlors in Topeka and Lawrence were fronts for prostitution…Five people were charged in federal grand jury indictments alleging prostitution businesses generated millions of dollars in revenue.  Charges included conspiracy, interstate racketeering, bank fraud and money laundering…

Note the way pigs try to make this seem like a big-time cartel by throwing around terms like “millions”; any business that doesn’t gross at least $1 million over a five-year period is probably failing.

Safe Position

If the Democrats were smart, they’d adopt this as their official platform:

…when it comes to the rights of…sex workers…elected Democrats still overwhelmingly side with the religious right and consistently fail to consult the people most affected by their policies…Now, however, a small but growing group of…candidates are heeding the outrage of their constituents and have turned against laws that make it harder for sex workers to safely practice.  At least three Democrats running in competitive House primaries are currently campaigning on their opposition to SESTA/FOSTA, legislation that passed in April and holds websites criminally liable for any [claims of] sex trafficking that occurred on their pages…the bill effectively shut down the websites that were the safest venues for sex workers to ply their trade.  Following its passage, Backpage.com and the personals section of Craigslist immediately folded.  Their collapse has already prompted many sex workers to return to the streets, where conditions are much more dangerous…

Lack of Evidence (#848)

The recrudescence of a public health nightmare:

…If you believe that all prostitutes are forced into it against their will…then prostitutes are victims.  If you believe it’s possible that it’s just a transaction between consenting adults, then it shouldn’t be a crime at all.  If you’re just a prude determined to tell other people how to conduct their sex lives in accordance with your sniffling sensibilities, then it doesn’t matter…As advocates like Maggie McNeill have made clear, there are women who choose prostitution as their occupation without shame or excuse.  This is what they choose to do, and they don’t give a damn about your Victorian mores.  You don’t have to like it, but…the demand exists and always has, and despite your sniffling, it’s not going away.  But is the answer to force prostitutes, and their customers, to risk the choice between contracting a loathsome, if not deadly, disease or enhance their time in jail?  That’s what Allegheny County is trying to do…the possession of condoms means the difference between a summons and a custodial arrest…

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