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Posts Tagged ‘hysteria’

Our cause…isn’t just ours after all, but rather a vital part of the rights of all individuals to control their own voices, bodies, and lives without the interference of violent busybodies.  –  “Sex Worker Rights Day 2020

The landscape of sex worker rights activism looks very different from the way it did when I wrote my first essay for this occasion ten years ago; then almost nobody outside of Asia celebrated the day, and now it’s observed worldwide.  Sex worker activism in the US is no longer the domain of a small number of activists; vast numbers of sex workers now speak out online, belong to various activist groups, and politically mobilize to oppose prohibitionists, who not so long ago could count on their lies going unchallenged by any but a vocal minority.  The War on Whores has alienated enough people that a majority now support decriminalization, and support for sex worker rights is no longer the kiss of death for politicians.  The evolution of “sex trafficking” hysteria into a new Satanic Panic has many of the hacks who once eagerly spread prohibitionist wanking fantasies distancing themselves from the mythology and even debunking the tales they until-recently represented as facts.  As I wrote last year, “The younger activists, those in their twenties and thirties, have got this, and they are more than capable of carrying it; it’s time for older activists like me to move into a more advisory role…”  As part of that shift, I think it’s time for me to stop writing new essays on this topic, lest I grow irrelevant due to repetition.  Besides, I’ve already written plenty:

2011:  “International Sex Workers’ Rights Day
2012:  “Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs
2013:  “International Sex Worker Rights Day
2014:  “Sex Worker Rights Day
2015:  “Hands On
2016:  “The ‘Active’ in ‘Activism’
2017:  “Out and Proud
2018:  “365 Days of Activism
2019:  “More Than Ever
2020:  “Sex Worker Rights Day 2020

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or fear that our cause is hopeless, I suggest you read all of those in order; you may be surprised just how much things have changed for the better over that short span, and just imagine what the political landscape will look like in 2031 if things keep developing at the same rate as they have for the last three years.  We still have a very long way to go, and the fight will never be completely over until we as a species discard the wicked dogma that consensual behavior can somehow be a “crime”, and the pretense that inflicting violence on people is somehow “helping” them.  But it’s important to recognize the progress we’ve already made, and to draw from it hope for a better future.

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The Constitution…also prohibits the government from using its immense authority to coerce private actors into censoring on its behalf.
–  Ben Wizner

A False Dichotomy 

Despite the authors’ use of prohibitionist terms like “trafficked into” (meaning “sold to”), insistence on pretending that Western cultural norms apply as clearly in impoverished Bangladesh as they do in middle-class London, and offensive presentation of cops and politicians as “rescuers”, the truth in this article still comes through:  that for girls in a brutally poor, overpopulated, patriarchal culture, sex work is often (as the authors themselves express it) “the least bad option”, even when those options include the monogamous marriage so beloved of the majority of white savior types.

Out of Control (#946)

What is wrong with doctors who do this?

A Stanford pediatrician has pleaded not guilty to…[trying to molest] an underage girl he met on social media…Dr. Dylan O’Connor…[sent] her [dick pics and]…requested [nudes] from…he[r, after which she apparently told her mother, who called the cops to set]…O’Connor [up].  He allegedly…brought a blanket and condoms with him, and [told cops he had]…a sex addiction [despite knowing as a doctor that there is no such thing]…

The Widening Gyre (#1005)

The “things on cars” branch of “sex trafficking” scarelore is driven by a kind of inversion of Occam’s razor:

Brittaney Strupe [of Ohio]…got engaged [on Valentine’s Day] and had plenty of leftover red roses…So [she]…her sister and daughter…[decided to] go to Walmart…[and put them on] vehicles [as a gift to others.  But when] customers and Walmart employees began to discover them [everybody succumbed to collective hysteria and]…called the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office…[which started spouting ridiculous fantasies about] human traffickers…on Facebook [where]…Strupe…[saw it and]…call[ed] to [explain, after which the cops vomited out “if you see something, say something”]…

“The mentally disturbed do not employ the Principle of Scientific Parsimony: the most simple theory to explain a given set of facts.  They shoot for the baroque.”  –  Philip K. Dick, Valis

Torture Chamber (#1040)

When government is in charge, things can always get worse:

…As a once-in-a-generation snowstorm walloped the Lone Star State…already-dire conditions inside Texas prisons…got even worse…33 prisons lost power and 20 had water shortages after the state’s electrical grid failed…prisoners ha[d]…no options to stay warm…there…[were] ne[ither enough]…extra blankets and jackets to…go around…no[r sufficient staff] to [distribute them because]…fewer [screws] showed up to work…staff [didn’t bother] to pass out medication…and…the food…bec[a]me [even more] inedible and…unidentifiable [than before]…prisoners with [secret] phones sent pictures of their increasingly pitiful meals…more than a dozen prisons lost some or all of their access to water…so…the toilets are overflowing with waste…Advocates for prisoners say these problems have been years in the making…

See also the final item below.

You Were Warned (#1046)

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

Back in September…Facebook publicly sa[id] that if Australia went forward with its ridiculous attack on the open internet, and instituted a “news link tax” on Facebook and Google, that it would block news links on Facebook in Australia… and basically everyone ignored it.  So…when Facebook announced that it was no longer allowing news to be shared in Australia (and relatedly, no longer allowing the sharing of Australian news services on Facebook), it should not have been a surprise.  And yet…almost everyone started blaming and attacking Facebook…[the] company…deserves lots of blame for lots of bad things that it does.  But this ain’t it…the simple facts of the situation are that Australia — pushed heavily by Rupert Murdoch — has decided to put in place a plan to tax Google and Facebook for any links to news…This is fundamentally against the principles of an open internet …”search engine optimization” and “social media management”…[exist] because everyone else in the world has figured out that having prominent links on search engines and social media is valuable in its own right…[the Australian government’s position] is like saying that not only should NBC have to run an advertisement for Techdirt, but it should have to pay me for it.  If that seems totally nonsensical, that’s because it is…

You Were Warned (#1082)

Congress won’t stop until it controls the internet:

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content…[using the pretexts of] “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud”…[politicians claim] that “these online platforms have…[enabled] grim consequences for public health and safety”…House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing:  to exert control over the content on these online platforms…[even though] Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose…speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing

Torture Chamber (#1093)

“Give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, so I can torture and deport them”:

In Louisiana and Texas, immigrants seeking asylum are facing dire conditions [while locked in cages due to last]…week’s extreme cold.  At the South Texas Family [Concentration Camp]…parents and children have been living with overflowing toilets, thirst, poor hygiene, and [insufficient] heat…Twenty miles away, at [another] ICE [concentration camp, prisoners]…who complain…about the cold face…retaliation [from screws who] are turning on fans to make it colder…[some] have [even] thrown blankets into the garbage after [prisoners] complained…

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Give this man his money.  –  Judge Christine Underwood

Profit from Panic 

A pandemic can’t stop opportunists from wringing every penny they can from this hysteria before it implodes completely:

The B.E. A S.H.E.R.O. Foundation…hosted its 6th annual Awareness Gala, themed “Rising from the Ashes.” The event centered on raising…funds for [the organizers by exploiting the moral panic around]…sex trafficking…Because of pandemic health guidelines, guests were invited to host in-home parties with only their close circles, family or solo.  SHERO Founder Kimberly Miles hosted the online event from the Stirling Club, with special appearances from Terry Fator, Clint Holmes, Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers and more…

Disaster (#949)

Australia is joining the US in trying to destroy the internet:

If Australia genuinely wants to minimise online harm, we need to have more nuanced narratives than “won’t somebody please think of the children”.  The federal government’s Online Safety Bill…[will] impede upon our digital rights, harm vulnerable groups, and c[onstrict] the way the majority of Australians experience the internet…part [of the scheme] gives the eSafety Commissioner expanded “take-down powers”…[to] order the removal of…any sexual content…or content that is “unsuitable for a minor to see”…Sex workers, pornography creators…sex-positive educators and activists are just some who will struggle to work online due to the scheme.  As experience of the controversial SESTA/FOSTA laws in the US…has shown, crackdowns such as these incentivise online platforms to remove or censor sexual content altogether to avoid penalty…this forces sex workers offline and often into unsafe working environments…

A Moral Cancer (#1013)

Crypto-moralists won’t hesitate to add nationalism to “health” rhetoric to advance their anti-pleasure agenda:

British stores could be flooded with “dangerous” bacon and ham from the US, marketed under misleading labels, as the result of a transatlantic trade deal, says the author of a new book based on [statistical illiteracy and militant veganism]…The meat has been cured with nitrites extracted from vegetables, a practice not permitted by the European Commission because of evidence that it [marginally] increases the [very small] risk of bowel cancer.  But it is allowed in the US, where the product is often labelled as “all natural”…

Robocops

Court declares that cops are too stupid and evil to understand that intentionally burning an innocent person alive is wrong:

…On July 10, 2017, [Gabriel Eduardo] Olivas’ son called 911 to report that his father was threatening to kill himself…[responding cops] found Olivas “leaning against a wall and holding a red gas can”…[one cop] shouted…”If we tase him, he is going to light on fire!”…Olivas [had] poured gasoline over himself…[but pig Jeremias] Guadarrama “fired his taser at the gasoline-soaked man, causing him to burst into flames…The fire spread from Olivas to the walls of the bedroom, and the house eventually burned to the ground”…Olivas…died…the [family]…sued…and…the…court [ruled]…it…”reasonable”…[to set off high-voltage electrical] sparks that could easily ignite gasoline…after a[nother cop] had [already] emphasized it…the 5th Circuit has forthrightly declared that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit police from firing Tasers at a suicidal, gasoline-drenched man…

The Last Shall Be First (#1078)

Anti-trans hysteria has shifted from toilets to high-school sports:

A proposed bill introduced in…Georgia…called for banning transgender girls from participating in [organized] sports…a similarly-written law in Idaho…is currently blocked by injunction from a federal court.  So another proposal was introduced…that went even further.  House Bill 372 would redefine gender as “a person’s biological sex at birth” in state law, require state-funded schools and associations to ban participants they deem not “biologically” male or female from sports, and calls for a panel to examine information about the genitalia or chromosomes of any [prospective] participant who petitions otherwise…

I must point out that contrary to some online statements about this buffoonery, it does not call for the panel to inspect students’ genitalia, only “information about” them (presumably derived from a medical exam).  But it’s still akin to the creepy pretense that for students to voluntarily allow other people to examine their genitalia for the purpose of pleasure is a “crime”, but for the same students to be forced by law to allow strangers to examine their genitalia for the purpose of bigotry is “protection”.

The Next Target (#1099)

One day, “professional ‘survivor'” will no longer be a lucrative job:

…[Morality in Media] filed a…[law]suit in Birmingham, Alabama against Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek, [exploiting the claims] of two women who alleged illegal videos of themselves were uploaded to the platform by third-party users…The lawsuit alleges that MindGeek “conspired, facilitated and financially benefited, from sex trafficking ventures between [themselves] and others”…

A Broker in Pillage (#1101)

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

A district court judge in North Carolina is threatening to jail one town’s officials if they don’t return nearly $17,000 in cash they s[tole from] a man’s rental car…Jermaine Sanders was staying at a hotel in…November when he left his room and found police [ransack]ing his car.  Police [claimed] they found half an ounce of marijuana and $16,761 in cash.  They s[tole] both…[and] sent the cash to…CBP [in order to circumvent state restrictions on such robbery].  When Sanders lawyered up…Mooresville [bureaucrats] responded that [they were] no longer in possession of the cash…[Judge Christine] Underwood…found the city in contempt of her order [to refund the money] and…[gave] them seven business days to comply.  She told the city’s attorney…that she was not afraid to jail town commissioners, the police chief, or anybody else responsible for keeping Sanders from getting his money back…

Yet most courts still refuse to admit that this is about nothing other than profit:

Civil asset forfeiture…allows police to s[teal] property they [pretend] is connected to crime without arresting…the owner…the practice demolishes due process and undermines property rights, giving cops a license to steal from innocent people who often lack the resources to resist…[pushers] of [the scheme pretend] it deters and incapacitates drug traffickers…[but] in a new study published by the Institute for Justice, Seattle University economist Brian Kelly…analyzed data from five states that use forfeiture extensively:  Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.  He reports no statistically significant relationship between increased forfeiture revenue and lower drug use rates or higher crime clearance rates.  To the contrary, Kelly found that clearance rates for violent crimes tend to fall as forfeiture revenue rises…[because] the lure of…money diverts law enforcement resources from predatory crimes to drug offenses…

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Unspeakable

When one studies primitive cultures, one finds they always believe that words have magic power, for example the idea of a True Name, or not speaking the name of God aloud, or whispering certain words so as not to tempt evil spirits, or the idea that the very act of writing is a form of magic; consider that the Egyptian Thoth was among the greatest gods because he invented writing, and the Germanic Odin was said to have crucified himself to induce the vision that led to the discovery of writing.  We really haven’t changed much.  Take offensive words, for example; any reasonably-polite person will avoid words that he believes might offend his listeners, but many people nowadays are so terrified of the magical power of words that they avoid using a “bad” word even in the context of discussing the word itself rather than using it offensively.  And so we are forced to endure endless kindergarten formulations such as “the F word”, “the N word”, “the R word” (which I encountered for the first time this week), etc, as though the speaker or writer thought even spelling the word in question would summon Voldemort or Hastur the Unspeakable.  But such asininities are ultimately futile; I mean, is there any English-speaking adult who doesn’t recognize “f***” as “fuck”?  Of course not; the bowdlerized form merely becomes a synonym for the unholy combination of sounds.  This is what is called the “euphemism treadmill”; any euphemism eventually becomes the semantic equivalent of the Forbidden Word in the brains of listeners, so that it, too becomes contaminated and must be replaced with a new euphemism.  The process only stops when the negative associations do, and there is no shortcut.  It’s why I use old, new, clinical, and vulgar terms for whores mostly interchangeably; slapping a nice label on a stigmatized group doesn’t make oppressive laws and ugly propaganda go away.  For example, though many reporters are now using “sex worker” instead of “prostitute”, they might as well use the latter because the way they use it (ie the tone, accompanying adjectives, infantilizing statements about us, etc) is no different. The words aren’t the problem; bigotry, hate, and evil laws are.  It’s the same for every oppressed minority group, and subjecting someone to the fucking Inquisition because sinful sounds slipped forth from his larynx will change nothing except to make the world a poorer, uglier, nastier place.  So please, stop wasting your damned energy policing other people’s speech, and start using it to speak against policing others.

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The current way of handling sex workers is dangerous.  –  Eric Gonzalez

The Proper Study (#897)

Academics keep “discovering” what we’ve been saying for decades:

A new study shows nearly a third of all sex workers are unable to call 911 for help…due to fear of [arrest or attack] from police for themselves, their coworkers and managers.  The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Social Sciences, is based on community research conducted in Surrey, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Sudbury, Ont., from 2017-18…[project lead] Dr. Anna-Louise Crago…said the current [Canadian] legal framework…places emphasis on criminalizing clients…and…sex workers[‘ friends and associates]…“The stated aim of the law…has clearly, clearly failed…sex workers are forced to choose between accessing help…or protecting their coworkers or their managers from [cops].”  The data shows the current [Swedish criminalization] framework…creates an obstacle to safety, and is harmful, said Crago…Another key finding…is that when sex workers needed help escaping a situation of violence or confinement, some 40.5 per cent were assisted by other sex workers; 29.7 per cent by friends, family or partner; 24.3 per cent by clients; and only 5.4 per cent…[by] police…

Safe Position (#928)

Finally, a politician supports sex worker rights with deeds, not mere words:

More than 1,000 open cases related to prostitution and loitering — some dating as far back as the 1970s — will be dismissed in Brooklyn, [said] District Attorney Eric Gonzalez…The news is a part of a formal announcement that Gonzalez’s office now plans to decline to prosecute or dismiss cases on both charges.  It is part of an effort to keep sex workers and other marginalized people — particularly people of color on low incomes — out of court…Gonzalez said his office has been rolling out a program to dismiss all prostitution cases over the last year, along with arrests under the loitering statute, which he said it has declined to prosecute since 2019…Sex workers may still [not be able to beat the ride], but Gonzalez [promised they’ll beat the rap]…he…said…fewer than 30 cases [were] processed last year…

Quiet Genocide (#1002)

The few Western articles about the Uighur genocide usually ignore the rapes:

First-hand accounts from inside [Chinese concentration] camps are rare, but several former [prisoners] and a guard have [reported]…an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.  Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men.  She…was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men…a Kazakh woman…who was detained for 18 months…was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men.  Afterwards, she [was ordered to] clean…the rooms… “My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move,” said Gulzira Auelkhan …”Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter – some Chinese man from outside or policeman…when the man left…I took the woman for a shower…[men] would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates”, she said…Some of the women who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, Ziawudun said.  Those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them…”It is designed to destroy everyone’s spirit”…

I Spy (#1011)

Despite claims of “wing” fetishists, the worst US tyranny is always bipartisan:

A new bill revitalizes the war on terror’s favorite slogan in service of forcing tech companies to turn over more user data to the government.  The “See Something, Say Something Online Act,” introduced by [Democrat] Joe Manchin…and…[Republican] John Cornyn…is the latest attack on…Section 230 as well as freedom of speech and…privacy.  The legislation says any interactive computer service provider…will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that…government officials [retroactively declare]…suspicious…services must submit a Suspicious Transmission Activity Report (STAR) within 30 days, providing the user’s name, location, and other identifying information, as well as any relevant metadata.  Those submitting the user surveillance reports would henceforth be barred from talking about or even acknowledging the existence of them.  STARs would also be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests…

Remember that the government pretends that sex work is “sex trafficking”, and declares that a “major crime”, which means this law would compel webites to rat sex workers out to the feds.

Worse Than I Thought (#1025)

Another politician with a minuscule particle of human decency:

…Last month, the Casper [Wyoming] City Council began revising their prostitution ordinance after the [local cop shop began touting fantasies about supposed]…“human trafficking” [in the city of 58,000]…City Manager Carter Napier [admitted]…that the main purpose was to further criminalize sex work by…creat[ing] the new crime of “performance prostitution,” which it defined as “any touching, manipulation or fondling of the sex organs and/or aerola [sic] by one person upon themselves or…another, whether by touch or the physical use of other items, for the purpose of sexually arousing…the person who paid for…the sexual arousal”…But…Council Member Kyle Gamroth [delayed the vote after] point[ing] out that the definition would criminalize online sex work in the city…Local publication Oil City News added anti-sex work editorializing to their report by…connect[ing a Julie] Bindel…[screed published in the] UK [to] creat[e] a made-up panic around OnlyFans…[as part of] their ongoing series on “human trafficking in Wyoming”…

Torture Chamber (#1037)

Dozens of rapists rewarded with paid vacations:

Dozens of [screws] at New Jersey’s only women’s prison have been [rewarded with paid vacations for]…brutally beat[ing] and [raping defenseless women.  In the most recent reported incident, on January 11th, screws handcuffed]…Ajila Nelson…and others, before punching, kicking, stripping and [rap]ing [them in] a shower [to wash away evidence.  In another case]…a transgender woman…was beaten by a g[ang] of [screws] and three of…[them] stomped on her head…her…knee was so badly damaged that she’s now…in…a wheelchair…[some of] the attack[s appear to be]…retaliation for complaints…

Bread and Circuses (#1053)

Texas courts have never seen police-statery they won’t hand-wave through:

Another constitutional challenge to FOSTA has failed, at least for the time being…Last summer, the DC Court of Appeals…said the law was littered with broad language that could be construed to target legal actions and behavior.  It particularly had a problem with the terms “promote” and “facilitate” when used in conjunction with the law’s sex trafficking language…Unfortunately, a federal court in Texas has come to the opposite conclusion about the same terms…It…[claims]…the terms…are narrow enough to limit collateral damage to free speech and other protected activity.  This challenge was filed by Wilhan Martono — the operator of CityXGuide, someone the DOJ finally used FOSTA against more than two years after it was signed into law…[but] sex workers who moved to CityXGuide after the shutdown of Backpage were nonetheless collateral damage, even if the law…supposedly…[does] not [target] consensual sex work…the court [also]…equat[es] the hosting of ads for sex work with the act of pimping...Even [though] the government didn’t argue Martono was engaged in…pimping.  There are no charges related to that…

The Next Target (#1099)

Prohibitionists care only about “messages”, not facts:

[A Canadian Parliamentary] Committee…held a hearing…concerning the allegations made against Pornhub…by Nicholas Kristof…[and] Exodus Cry…parent company MindGeek…is headquartered in Luxembourg, although many of its operations are run from Montreal and the…owners are Canadian…The[re were]…only two witnesses…[an] American [professional “survivor”] and…a NYC-based [shyster], Michael Bowe, who has previously represented disgraced evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump…Bowe…showed no professional understading of the technical issues around online platforms, algorithms or moderation, or…to basic free speech issues…[and] told the MPs he didn’t “have time or full understanding to explain [MindGeek’s business model]”…

Stupor Bowl (#1110)

One of those rare occasions when I’m actually less pessimistic than others:

…the now-routine round of warnings about sex trafficking around the big game has once again surfaced…So, here is your annual reminder that there’s no truth to the idea that forced and underage prostitution pick up around the Super Bowl (or other big sporting events), nor that “human traffickers” will descend on the city where it takes place…and we can all marvel at the persistence and audacity of this myth… “Alleged attempts to tackle #humantrafficking in response to mega sporting events are too often based on conflating #sexwork in general…to crack down on consensual sex workers trying to make a living,” tweets U.K. writer Emily Kenway, author of the new book The Truth About Modern Slavery…claims of an influx of Super Bowl sex traffickers has helped the feds put a positive spin on security theater around the event, while giving local cops an excuse to do vice stings and call them rescue missions

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From what I can tease out of the moralistic, hyperbolic language in the statement quoted in this article, plus online comments by others, a computer programmer who helped develop a modification for a popular video game intended for adults posted some animated cartoons on his own personal website that might potentially upset extremely sheltered people who have neither heard of Fritz the Cat nor paid much attention to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and his employer has as a result censored the modification.  Though it’s difficult to tell from what I’ve linked, the material that the company claims is “deeply disturbing to the entire team” of adults who not only play but program a post-apocalyptic game full of violence and gore, and which a company dedicated to profiting from such games feels it must “condemn…in the strongest sense” and “conduct…dialogue” about, was “furry cub porn”, ie cartoons depicting imaginary sexual behavior of wholly imaginary anthropomorphic animal characters who within the fictional universe depicted in the cartoons are “underage”.  In other words, though most people believe it’s OK for kids to watch cartoons depicting violence, mayhem and even murder of imaginary characters, it’s not OK for adults to watch cartoons depicting sexual behavior of such characters, presumably because doing so emits dangerous “sex rays” which can transcend time and space to contaminate a game intended for adults.  Said game must therefore be censored to “protect THE CHILDREN™!!!” (who aren’t supposed to be playing it anyway), despite the fact that the cartoons in question neither appear within the game, nor are attached to it in any way.  Of course we’re told the content was “pedophillic” [sic], a word intended to override the reader’s critical faculties so that he doesn’t stop to consider that despite being depicted as human babies, Maggie Simpson is 34 and Baby Herman at least 40.  And those are “human” cartoon characters; how would it work for imaginary anthropomorphic animals?  Since real dogs and cats are sexually mature at 1, full-grown at 2 and usually dead of old age before 18, what the hell would “underage” look like, assuming one were deranged enough to care?  People who actually think that the make-believe sexual activities of make-believe characters belonging to make-believe species in a make-believe society warrant serious real-life consequences are clearly detached from reality, so maybe what these folks need is to stop living in their make-believe game world for a while and reacquaint themselves with the one where each player only has one life and the make-believe “innocence” of creatures who do not actually exist is not generally viewed as a valid reason for moral condemnation.

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Hairdressers…would hardly consider their work to be “decriminalized” if it were legal to sell a haircut but not to buy one.  –  Michael Ellsberg

Under Duress 

Are most cops even capable of telling the truth?

Most Americans don’t know this, but [cops]…are permitted by law to outright lie…to suspects…in pursuit of a confession.  Of all forms of subterfuge they deploy — like feigning sympathy and suggesting that a suspect’s confession might bring leniency — this one is particularly dangerous.  In Frazier v. Cupp (1969), the Supreme Court made it lawful for the police to [lie about] evidence.  “The victim’s blood was found on your pillow,” “You failed the polygraph,” “Your fingerprints were on the knife” and “Your friend said she wasn’t with you like you said” are some common but brazen lies told.  There is…no limit to the type or magnitude of deception permitted — one lie or many; small lies and whoppers; lies aimed at adults or anxious and unwary teenagers…the history of wrongful convictions points to countless innocent people induced to confess to crimes they did not commit.  A bill…in New York…would finally put a stop to [permission for] this in the state.  [Cops would of course still lie constantly, but they would no longer have actual permission to do so]…and…courts [would be required] to evaluate the reliability of confession evidence before allowing it to be used…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (#752) 

This histrionic has-been has made a rotting moral panic her whole career:

Mira Sorvino is developing a [TV] series to…[profit from the dying hysteria over] human trafficking…The series will [exploit] a group of people…using…abused and neglected rescue animals [that Sorvino and her fellow prohibitionists pretend sex workers resemble]…on a…200-acre ranch outside of Los Angeles [being used as a gingerbread house.  Mira’s]…sister Amanda Sorvino is a highly respected animal rescuer and [it seems that Mira believes humans can be “rescued” using the same methods intended for animals]…

Safe Position (#947)

Even my jaded self is impressed with the speed this is happening in New York:

…Manhattan District Attorney candidate Eliza Orlins is unveiling a comprehensive policy platform calling for the full decriminalization of sex work…Formulated in consultation with many sex workers and…advocacy organizations, it is one of the most detailed policy positions on…decriminalization…ever put forward by a major candidate at any level of U.S. politics…Orlins’ policy platform opens, “As District Attorney I will advocate for the full decriminalization of consensual sex work.  This will begin with declining to prosecute all cases of consensual sex work.  Sex work is work.  Criminalizing sex work stigmatizes and disproportionately targets people of color and trans women, who are already marginalized members of our community… Decriminalizing is the most effective way to protect sex workers from police violence…It is necessary…to reduce mass incarceration”…recent national polling…shows that 52 percent of American voters support the full decriminalization of sex work either strongly or somewhat…The candidate…emphasized that she will aggressively prosecute sex traffickers…In contrast to [prohibitionist politician Liz] Krueger, Orlins [states that]…“Prohibitionist models (such as the ‘Nordic Model’) continue to criminalize and stigmatize sex workers.  Partial legalization schemes give prosecutors too much discretion”…

Orlins’ clear denunciation of Swedish criminalization (even more explicit in the interview which forms the second half of this article) makes me far more optimistic about her plans than those of either Michigan Prosecutor Eli Savit or presidential wannabe Andrew Yang.

Torture Chamber (#1001)

Virginia screws sexually assault women like this on a regular basis:

In July of 2016, Angela Calloway arrived at the Augusta C[age Stack] in…Virginia, to visit with a…[prisoner]…She left soon after, having been [force]d to remove her clothes and tampon so [screws] could [violate] her vaginal[ly] and anal[ly using the pretext of a “search”]…Calloway has not returned to the prison since.  A federal court ruled…that the guards involved in that [sexual assault] did not violate the Fourth Amendment…upholding a lower court ruling that awarded qualified immunity to the government employees.  Calloway will thus not be permitted to sue over the [attack]…

The judges’ ruling can be paraphrased as, “cops are so barbaric and stupid they can’t possibly know that rape is wrong.”  Presumably, that applies even when the victim is only eight years old.

The Monsters Are Due (#1018)

We haven’t seen a case of white van hysteria in almost a year:

University of Oregon students are [behaving like hysterical idiots about]…sex trafficking…[because] a [delusional busybody posted a] TikTok video…show[ing] a white van and accus[ing its owner] of having girls in the back of it…Brandon Smith…[was simply] driving his van…[when] two girls acting intoxicated [started] screaming down to their friends o[ut of a window]…Police showed up to Smith’s door as he was doing laundry and [harassed and threatened him for hours over the moronic accusation.  Luckily they did not murder or assault him, but]…he…is dealing with people harassing him when they see his van, and it’s taking a toll on his mental health…

Robocops

We need more attention to one of the greatest legal abominations ever conceived:

Ben & Jerry’s two co-founders want to make it easier for Americans to sue [violent, corrupt cops]…Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield…The Campaign to End Qualified Immunity is being championed by Cohen and Greenfield…activist Shaun King…rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render…[politicians] Tom McClintock…Mike Braun…Ayanna Pressley and…Cory Booker…NFL stars Tom Brady and Drew Brees a[nd]…more than 1,500 [other] athletes and artists…[plus] 671 business leaders, according to its website.  “We are…resolved to end this get-out-of-jail free card for bad cops,” Cohen told reporters…

Dutch Threat (#1059)

The Dutch scheme to Disnify De Wallen is no longer merely a scheme:

The brothel windows of Amsterdam’s red light district will be closed and an “erotic centre” will be set up away from the city centre, councillors have agreed.  A proposal from the city’s mayor, Femke Halsema…was backed by a broad group of p[uritans]…The sex workers in the De Wallen red light district will be [forc]ed to move to a purpose-built centre elsewhere in Amsterdam…[or else choose to work illegally.  Politicians pretend]ed that the brothel windows should be closed [to “protect”] women working in the area [by dramatically cutting into their income]…When the idea was first proposed, a…[survey show]ed that 90% of…female sex workers…wanted to work in the windows…of…De Wallen.  [A sex worker called]…Foxxy…told [reporters]: “Relocating…is not an option because then the customers will not know where to find the sex workers. Will [politicians] also…organise bus trips for them to the Westelijk Havengebied?”…A second proposal to ban tourists from buying cannabis from the city’s cafes is struggling to win support owing to [the reality] that it will hand over trade to dealers on the streets…

Stupor Bowl (#1106)

Pathetic public promotions of misogynistic masturbatory material like this appear to be all that’s left of the once-popular “gypsy whores” myth.  Whereas national media used to prominently feature fetishists stroking themselves in public to the general adoration of gullible nitwits, the coverage is now mostly limited to local papers and TV news stations who consider obedient regurgitation of copaganda, no matter how ludicrous, to be part of their business model, plus fringe sites run by copsuckers and ex-military wingnuts with delusions of expertise unshared by anyone with even a cursory familiarity with the subject.  While the tales used to start appearing late in the preceding summer or even a year or more in advance, they now seem largely limited to a few foul eruptions in the week or two before, like a sudden discharge from a cluster of turgid pustules previously hidden by clothing.  And despite claims of “recent reports” and “new studies” of the fantasy, all of the claims are a decade or more old and still derive from the same grotesque prohibitionist profiteering we’ve seen over and over again (this one, as one might expect from fascist authoritarians, relies heavily on “Cuckoo Clock” McCain’s fevered fantasies from ’14 which imploded in a spectacular fashion last autumn).  In short, there’s nothing to see here that we haven’t seen innumerable times before, and these creeps’ pathetic devotion to their ugly fantasies would inspire pity if it weren’t being used to support calls for mass surveillance, aggressive censorship and state-sanctioned rape.

To Molest and Rape (#1109)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A [typical and representative NYPD cop]…was arrested on child pornography charges…after he repeatedly posed as a teenager online to request and obtain sexually explicit photos and videos from at least 46 minors…Carmine Simpson…is the latest in a string of [cops]…to be [caught committing] sexual crimes involving minors…Simpson told his targets that he was 17…and…some[times]…sent them pictures of himself to which he had applied a filter, making him look younger…In November, [cop] Shaun Frazier…[was caught molesting kids for]…the…third [time]…In July, a [pig known for skulking around] school[s]…Jeanisidor Jean Baptiste, was…charged with…rape and assault against a child.  In March…Yavier Julio, was indicted on child pornography charges…In February…Timothy Martinez was charged with possession of child pornography…In September 2019…Juan Jimenez, was…charged with [molesting]…a child.  And the month before that, John Telesca…was…charged with…child pornography.  Dara E. Purvis, an associate dean at Penn State Law who has studied sexual violence by the police, said this kind of misconduct is vastly underreported…

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Public health expert…warnings were largely ignored by governments.  –  Heather Barr

Where Are the Victims?

Do cops realize how stupid their inability to stick with one narrative per statement makes them sound?

…a…ho[us]e in a gated country club…was being used as a brothel…[spokespig] Mike Bruno…[oinked]…“No one is immune from it…[oink oink] victim of human trafficking…[oink oink] protect the [41 and 50 year old] girls…[oink oink] these women may not even know that they are a victim…because obviously someone is making money”…

Under Every Bed 

578,759 people total at a density of about 2 per km2:

…sex trafficking…is happening in Wyoming, and it’s very unidentified here…Terri Markham…founde[d]…Uprising…[an] organization…committed to [mak]ing [money from hysteria] about sex trafficking in the state…she…[claims] sex trafficking is often misidentified as sexual abuse, domestic violence or some other crime instead…she a[lso] said if your child has any kind of online presence, there is a 100 percent chance the child has been seen by a predator…

Fetishists often turn things backward (in reality, domestic violence and other crimes are often mislabeled “sex trafficking” in order to win grants and whip up support for more police-statery), but the most amusing part of this is the claim that for a “predator” to merely see a teenager (which is what she really means by “child”) is some sort of cause for concern (presumably due to sex rays emitted by the dangerous “male gaze” and somehow propagated through the internet).

Guinea Pigs (#1013) 

The snitching “apps” and hotlines first sold as anti-whore technology are widening their nets:

Teachers, students and staff [in Oklahoma] can now report [each other] through text messages…For years…students have been able to r[at on each other]…through a [snitch] line…But [t]hat [didn’t fool them into thinking they’d have]…anonymity, and the…[new snitch line pretends]…a…text messaging system [somehow is.  Surveillance minister Jon]…Parker said once a student reports a[nother student], a s[pook]…will follow up with questions…[because the snitch texts go] right…[to] the[state] fusion center…[informants] also may send…videos and pictures [taken without the victim’s consent]…

Civil rights violations often start with whores, but never stop with us.

License to Rape (#1014)

TSA goons can usually molest citizens without consequence, but this was a bit too blatant:

A [typical and representative TSA goon]…who…[bullied and] trick[ed] a traveler into showing her breasts as she went through security [theater] at [LAX] pleaded no contest…to false imprisonment [in return for a slap on the wrist and bogus “sex addiction” classes]…Johnathon Lomeli…was also barred from working as a security guard [in California]…

Since the government still insists on hiding the identity of this budding rapist from women he might endanger, here’s California AG Xavier Becerra’s picture instead.

Social Distancing (#1043)

Don’t worry, the Swedish model “decriminalizes the seller”!

Norwegian police have arrested sex workers [using the pretext] that they violated quarantine restrictions…the[y now]…face detention and expulsion from Norway…some have already been forced to leave although their clients do not appear to have been arrested…Rights organizations drew attention early in the pandemic to its devastating impact on sex workers…[who] often struggle to access financial safety nets due to the marginalized nature of their work and because many are migrants or members of other groups facing discrimination.  These problems are worsened by laws criminalizing sex work…including…[those] us[ing] the so-called “Nordic model”…[which] harms people who sell sex…[by] mak[ing] it harder for them to find safe places to work, work together, advocate for their rights, or even open a bank account.  It stigmatizes sex workers and leaves them vulnerable to abuse by police…

You Were Warned (#1071)

Prohibitionists, censors and profiteers will continue to harass businesses thus until FOSTA is overturned:

Morality in Media…helped file a lawsuit…against Twitter over a third-party user post, based on the Section 230 loophole opened by…FOSTA-SESTA…The civil lawsuit for damages was filed under the federal Trafficking Victims’ Protection Reauthorization Act…but [the pro-censorship group] makes the argument for Twitter’s liability for a user’s post by invoking FOSTA-SESTA.  The case involves a video compilation uploaded by two Twitter accounts that allegedly contain material that an underage “John Doe” shot for strangers who catfished him through Snapchat claiming to be a girl his age…The lawsuit…timed to the inauguration of Kamala Harris as Vice President, makes allegations…that mirror the campaign to shut down…Backpage …The lawsuit is the first…of copycat proceedings that religious groups had announced for the first weeks of the Biden-Harris administration…under an effort known as “Project Blitz”…

Top Cop (#1103)

Authoritarian media want people to forget about the true nature of this psychopath, now only an old man’s heartbeat from the power she so desperately craves:

When The Washington Post published a 2019 campaign trail feature about…Kamala Harris’ close relationship with her sister, it opened with a memorable anecdote in which Harris bizarrely compared the rigors of the campaign trail to…life behind bars.  And then proceeded to laugh—at the idea of an inmate begging for a sip of water…But now that Harris is vice president, that awful moment…vanished from the Post’s website after the paper “updated” the piece earlier this month…The scene…did what few political features can accomplish: showing, rather than telling, something about the candidate…Harris made her name as a prosecutor, and her track record includes…laughing off criticism of her history of throwing poor parents in jail when their kids missed school.  The Post profile provided a mask-slipping moment that seemed to perfectly capture a warped sense of justice and lack of basic human dignity…[instead] the Post…[replaced it] with a new opening anecdote…by…Chelsea Janes…who has authored several fawning pieces about Harris…

Caught red-handed, the Post restored the original and downplayed their attempt to whitewash a tyrant as a kind of editorial oversight.

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I can’t breathe.  –  Cindy Falco DiCorrado

I was recently reminded of this December 1972 bit from Sesame Street, which manages to be extremely funny despite being totally sweet and wholesome.  The links above it were provided by Popehat, Dave Krueger, Jesse Walker, Phoenix Calida, Franklin Harris, Rick Horowitz, and Dave Crisp, in that order.

From the Archives

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For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
–  Hosea 8:7

As usual, politicians and the mainstream media are pretending that a disaster they helped create, born from an evil they planted at the turn of the century and have lovingly tended and fed since then, has absolutely nothing to do with them.  As the internet meme expresses it, “But we didn’t think the face-eating leopards would eat our faces!”  So they point fingers and try to cover their tracks and repeatedly “explain” how an explosion happened while ignoring the powder residue all over their hands and clothes.  The Capitol riot was the direct result of hysteria that politicians of both major parties, aided and abetted by the US journalism establishment and supplied with propaganda by hordes of religious fanatics, violent thugs and sociopathic profiteers, have enthusiastically promoted for a generation in order to trick useful idiots into accepting ever-increasing levels of surveillance, censorship, and police violence.  Yet their reaction to this is akin to that of a lifelong smoker pretending that his lung cancer was due entirely to his most recent pack:

Sen. Ben Sasse…blasted GOP lawmakers who had…tacitly endorsed QAnon in an op-ed in The Atlantic…warning that the Republican Party risks destruction if it doesn’t repudiate the crackpot conspiracy theory…Sasse said the riot was a “blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago”…the…Party “faces a choice,” Sasse says: “Dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution”…or be a “party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them…We have to repudiate people who peddle those lies”…

But Sasse isn’t the only one who refuses to recognize that QAnon is nothing more than the most recent flowering of the “sex trafficking” hysteria; look at the number of edits I needed to make to bring this Washington Post article into line with reality:

…the failed insurrection illustrated how the p[opular “sex trafficking” mythology]…has radicalized Americans, [justified extensive tyranny] and gained a forceful grip on [American] belief.  Born in [approved government anti-sex and anti-migrant propaganda], QAnon played an unmistakable role in energizing rioters during the real-world attack on Jan. 6.  A man in a “Q” T-shirt led the breach of the Senate, while a shirtless, fur-clad believer known as the “Q Shaman” posed for photographers in the Senate chamber…The [Evangelical Christian-] base[d narrative which has developed into a myth]…which imagines Trump in a battle with a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and [harvest] traffic[ked] children for [a magical life-extending chemical in their blood], helped drive the day’s events and facilitate organized attacks…The…movement’s evolution, from an [official fantasy intended to justify increased government surveillance, internet censorship, and oppression of sex workers] to a hallmark of pro-Trump violence, is a signal of the danger [moral panic, whether natural or synthetic,] poses to s[ocie]ty…“The takeaway from this is that [even government-approved] disinformation is a threat to our democracy,” said [psychologist] Joel Finkelstein…
Neither Biden nor Harris nor any of their cronies will ever publicly admit their complicity in this disaster.  But if we’re very fortunate, they may quietly distance themselves from the lunacy they’ve so enthusiastically promoted for many years, allowing it to at last die the natural death politicians’ sponsorship has to this point prevented.

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