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Posts Tagged ‘Imaginary Lines’

The movement of sex workers has become successful because they have learned to recognise themselves as workers.  –  Samarjit Jana

R.I.P. Gloria Leonard

Gloria LeonardPorn star and men’s magazine publisher Gloria Leonard died on February 3rd after suffering a stroke at her Hawaii home on the night of January 31st; she was 73, but had been in good health.  Like me, she was already over 30 when she began sex work and had already had a previous career (in her case, as a stockbroker).  She was hired as publisher of High Society in 1977 and still continued to star in and direct movies for several years afterward; she also pioneered one of the first phone sex lines in 1983.  During the feminist “porn wars” she became an outspoken advocate of sex work, and served as president of the Free Speech Coalition from 1998-2001.

Juxtaposition

Compare and contrast this:

Notified by The Street of its investigation that revealed that escort services were using Twitter, Rep. Chris Smith…urged that Congress investigate…to initiate a crackdown on Twitter, Backpage, Craigslist and other social media “that are the conduit for this terrible exploitation of women”…

And this:

Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police authority has decided to launch a war against what it described as vice and sorcery accounts on Twitter…The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said it had formed special teams to track those accounts and arrest those who are behind them…[for] “spreading vice and witchcraft…we are determined to eliminate these accounts before they become widespread and out of control”…

Oops

[Indian] police have [difficulty] acting on tip-offs about prostitution activity…[because] moral boundaries are changing at different rates and what some call illicit sex is…[to] others…usual dating practice…In September…18 couples…in “compromising positions” were  rounded up from rooms in a hotel in…Ludhiana and detained under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act.  Dharampal Singh…who led the raid, [said]…“Every couple says that they are there by consent or are dating [secretly]”…which is not uncommon in a society where families still arrange marriages and frown on premarital sex…

Well, At Least They’re Consistent

A [Virginia] state law that makes it a crime to have sex outside of marriage remains on the books after an effort to decriminalize it failed…Lawmakers…had concerns over potential loopholes the change would make in relation to incest and other sex crimes…[bill sponsor] Mark Sickles…[said] members want to make sure the bill is redrafted correctly and sent to the state Crime Commission for review before it is taken up again.  Eight people were convicted of fornication last year…

Surplus Women

[In 2007] Bonnie Barrett…was murdered by [Derek Brown]…who police believe was imitating Jack the Ripper…Bonnie worked as a…sex worker in Whitechapel…and…Jackie [Summerford] believes better policing could have prevented her…death.  She is one of several women who are today launchingRobert Richard Fraser a campaign on the Change.org petition website to change the way police interact with those in the sex trade.  She says… “They deserve to be protected, not ignored by police”…

Meanwhile, “Police have arrested a man [for]…the murder of…Maria Duque-Tunjano [last week]…Robert Richard Fraser…[is also suspected in]…an attack on another sex worker on January 18…

Imaginary Lines (November Updates)

The Gibson guitar company, having had its federally seized wood returned to it, is celebrating with the release of a new product made from that very wood:  the Les Paul Government II Series…available in one color:  “Government Tan.”

Where Are the Protests?

I guess rugs just aren’t as sexy as whores:

…researchers documented more than 3,000 cases of forced labor in India’s handmade carpet sector…factories and shacks where workers toil 10 to 12 hours a day for six to seven days a week were “cramped, filthy, unbearably hot and humid, imperiled with stray electrical wires and rusty nails…and contaminated with grime and mold”…Workers were subjected to frequent beatings and abuse and…suffered from…long-term health issues because of the grueling nature of the work.  Many…suffered from eye disease or loss of vision due to insufficient light.  Some developed spinal deformation…The average adult worker was paid between 21 and 24 cents an hour, while children were paid less…These carpets are sold in a number of major retail chains including, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Target, Sears, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, IKEA and others…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

Brigham Young University wants young Mormons to “rescue” their friends from the scourge of wanking by ratting on them to religious “authorities”:

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Thank you to new reader Xavier Naff for Vampyres, a lesbian vampire movie I first read about over 20 years ago but have never actually seen.  I’m told it’s very interesting on several levels.

Above the Law

Chicago police strip-searched three people on the street, and forced the woman to discard her bloody tampon while five male officers watched and made jokes about her body…Caprice Halley, Tevin Ford, and Willie Douglas…sued the City of Chicago and its Officers Wherfel, E. Doughtery, A. Granat, D. Balesteri, B. Rodekohr, J. Reckard, R. Federici, and T. Conlon…In May 2013, Halley and Ford were passengers in Douglas’ car, when they were confronted by police in an unmarked car driving toward them the wrong way down a one-way street…

Beside the vaginal probing of the woman, these uniformed molesters also shackled Douglas to a house’s burglar bars, pulled down his pants and spread his buttocks.  “Wherfel [then] took a small bag of heroin from her own sock and falsely claimed she had found it in Halley’s waistband”…

An Example to the West DMSC logo

A six-day conference of sex workers began [in Kolkata]…discussions [include] issues concerning their well-being as well as those relating to trafficking of minors and pension to old sex workers…

Hall of Shame

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof is a revolting excuse for a human being:

…Denis Hof…started pondering an expansion north of the border after he heard about the Supreme Court striking down prostitution laws in this country…“The smart residents will understand that it’s going to stop the sex trafficking that’s going on now. You got a huge sex trafficking problem…Our way would slow that down substantially”…

Yes, he’s spreading “sex trafficking” lies in Canada in hopes of lining his own pockets at independent sex workers’ expense.

The Public Eye

Here’s a short interview with Melissa Gira Grant in New York Magazine about her new book, Playing the Whore; in it she discusses Nick Kristof, Gloria Steinem, Jill Filipovic and other prohibitionists who claim they want to “rescue” us from our own choices.lurid sex trafficking (so-called) art

Profit from Panic (TW3 #40)

California State University, Stanislaus…senior Hannah Noonan took a proactive approach to educate her peers…through the creation of…“Crate Human Awareness,” a graphic installation displayed in a heavily traversed area of the campus…“My desire is to educate others that humans are being kidnapped and sold into slavery, prostitution, pornography, and organ harvesting”…humans are typically smuggled in crates of this type…according to Noonan…

A 22-year-old art major said it, so it must be true!

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (TW3 #44)

Gloria Steinem continues her journey into irrelevance:

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem today described prostitution as “commercial rape” and said it was wrong to term prostitutes as sex workers.  “Prostitution involves body invasion and so it is not like any other work.  So how can you call it sex work?  Prostitution is the only word you should use”…

That “body invasion” nonsense says almost all you need to know.

Above the Law (TW3 #313)

A New Jersey State [prison guard is going to]…prison for…[threatening] four prostitutes into having free or cut-rate sex with him…Juan R. Stevens pleaded guilty to official misconduct in return for…five years in prison…two before he’s eligible for parole…[he] also forfeits his state job and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey…

The End of the Beginning

A New Hampshire house committee has just passed a bill 18-1 (!!!) that would prohibit the establishment or existence of sex offender residency restrictions in that state.  This…is completely unheard of.  It’s one thing to simply not pass residency restriction bills, but it’s quite another to pass a law that explicitly prohibits them…[the bill’s sponsor] argued that restricting housing for sex offenders pushes them “underground,” in campgrounds, under bridges and to other places the police cannot monitor…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #324)

Cathy Reisenwitz in Daily CallerAmnesty International logo

It just couldn’t be clearer.  “Amnesty International is opposed to the criminalization or punishment of activities related to the buying or selling of consensual sex between adults.”  Thus begins a recently leaked document from the famed human rights organization calling for an end to prohibitions on sex work…Amnesty…defines sex work as work, making a clear delineation between employment and slavery…As Maggie McNeill details, anti-prostitution campaigners paint the typical sex worker as a child slave, while governments use anti-trafficking laws to restrict migration.  And that ill-intended confusion muddies the entire debate…as Amnesty International points out, “Criminalizing or otherwise punishing people for their choices in selling or buying consensual sex in any way fails to address these structural inequalities, and rather serves to further disempower individuals”…

A Broker in Pillage (TW3 #330)

The federal government must pay nearly $40,000 to cover the legal fees of a California woman who successfully sued to reclaim more than $1 million of her money [stolen by police] during a Nebraska traffic stop…Tara Mishra…[earned] the money…as an exotic dancer…and…[gave it to friends] to invest in a New Jersey nightclub…The government’s claim that the money was tainted with drug residue was of little value, the judge said, as…nearly all cash in circulation is drug-tainted…

Little Tin Gods

The Jefferson Davis Parish sheriff’s office claims that eight survival sex workers there were murdered by a serial killer.  However, all the women knew one another well; several were related to one another, and every one of them was a drug informant to a sheriff’s office which is notoriously corrupt even by Louisiana standards.  Read this long, thorough investigative report on the murders, and I suspect you’ll come to the same conclusion I did the very first time I heard about the case.

Number Puzzle (TW3 #350)

Alice Schwarzer…accused news magazine Spiegel…of trying to damage her reputation by reporting on her [paying]…‘a six-figure sum’…in back taxes [for]…her Swiss bank account…she…accused Spiegel of acting in the interest of [prostitutes]…

Catastrophic Consequences

Edinburgh City Council has scrapped the licensing of saunas and massage parlours…but it [does] not mean the saunas [will] close…Scot-Pep…said…”With Police Scotland persisting in its policy of using condoms as evidence of sex work against the explicit recommendations of the World Health Organisation, workers will fear to keep large quantities of condoms on their premises, as this could be used to criminalise women.”

Here’s a more surprising reaction to the news:

Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) has voted to publicly support the rights of sex workers…approximately 70 students…voted overwhelmingly in support of the motion…[which] stipulates that EUSA officially advocate the decriminalisation of sex work, offer its support to sex workers who are students at the University of Edinburgh, as well as endorsing sex workers’ rights organisations, “such as SCOT-PEP and Sex Workers’ Open University”…

The More the Better (TW3 #404)

Franck Ribery and…Karim Benzema were acquitted on charges of soliciting an underage prostitute…the…judge ruled there wasn’t enough proof the men were aware that…Zahia Dehar…was a minor at the time…

O, Canada! (TW3 #405)

More on the Canadian sex worker intimidation scheme; note they are only just realizing now that most escorts advertise online:

[Halifax, NS] police who worked in a recent nationwide sex-trade operation are seeing a shift toward online communicating…A joint news release issued by a number of Canadian sex-work support groups said the operation uses deception and intimidation…male officers posed as clients to book appointments, but then had several officers arrive…and demand entry.  They…[interrogate] her…demand to see her identification and search her premises and possessions…Fiona Traynor…of Stepping Stone…criticized the police news release for saying the sex workers were under some level of control.  “There’s no [evidence] of…that,” she said…

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Your typical “good feminist” engages in “sex-positive activism” by assuring one another that they are bold “revolutionaries” for watching punk porn or buying buttplugs…mainstream feminists know that you don’t change the world with a Hitachi Magic Wand.  –  Furry Girl

Marguerite Griffin (c 1911)Storyville

Melissa Gira Grant presents an excellent short history of the first 200 years of prostitution in America, “When Prostitution Wasn’t a Crime”; New Orleans is of course prominently featured, but is by no means the only city covered.  Grant looks at how whores were often the first women in colonies, how cops and politicians harassed us before our trade itself was criminalized, and how the social purity movement established criminalization as the American norm.

Grow the Hell Up!

Most California cities can no longer afford to persecute hookers, so San José has had to fall on that reliable fund-raising technique, lying:  “…San Jose Police…acquired a human trafficking grant from the federal government…[which funded] a very successful…sting operation…[arresting] johns and pimps…is extremely important, because they are the ones who…force these women [into] illicit activity…

Sex Workers Against Trafficking

sex workers from Nashik [Maharashtra] saved a 14-year-old girl from being sold by…an acquaintance…Vijay Dive…lured her with a trip…[and] told her that he would buy her new clothes…Dive [instead tried to sell her to]…some brothels…[but] sex workers…[informed] police…

Life Imitates Artifice (March Updates)

It’s good to see Russians using “sex trafficking” hysteria as propaganda; let’s hope the Islamic theocracies follow their lead:

The US Department of Justice reported that every two minutes a child is trafficked for…sexual exploitation in the United States…Parents, stepparents or guardians force their children to perform sex acts in exchange for money or items of value…a sex victim who was abused throughout her childhood [says] “Normally it’s in places where there’s lots of people, anytime when there’s a ball game”…child sex [traffickers] are ordinary people…[but] force their children to take addictive drugs and usually threaten them…In 2011 the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) revealed a study that showed there were more than 100 cases reported of child sex trafficking in Knox County…Tennessee…

A Fantasy of Hate

Night of the DemonsI described reading neofeminist hate-sites as “like opening the viewing window into a padded cell.”  Well, a Tweeter named Caprica collected this group interaction from the recent “RadFem 2013” convention; the specific focus of this malice is transgender people, but there’s plenty for men as well.  Warning: don’t look if you are easily disturbed by vile, psychopathic, literally genocidal hatred.

Imaginary Lines

Interestingly, the phrase “sex trafficking” appears nowhere in this story:

The madam of a nationwide Korean prostitution ring…was sentenced to [two years for] immigration fraud…Miyoung Roberts, 42…arranged illegal immigration for more than 24 Korean women who…[worked] at…nightclubs…[and] counseled…[them] on how to avoid detection by immigration authorities.  She set up apartments…and supervised some of [their] prostitution…Roberts…gained U.S. citizenship through a fake marriage…

Bootlickers

Washington state puritans continue their bizarre persecution of coffee stands:  “…Three bikini baristas have been arrested…in Everett…for allegedly selling strip shows to customers…at two Grab-N-Go stands, which is where several baristas were charged with prostitution…in 2009…The arrests came after a two-month undercover investigation…

Under a Rock

The redoubtable Furry Girl presents a devastating critique of sex-positive feminists’ insistence that theirs is the only true feminism:

…sex-positive, pro-autonomy, anti-victimhood feminists are a small minority compared to all the other feminists they…dismiss as “not real feminists.”  Large national feminist organizations and women’s studies departments are not run on “good feminist” principles, they are run by the oppressive and anti-sexuality feminists who represent mainstream feminist values.  “Good feminists” aren’t the ones being brought in as experts by governments to write new anti-sex worker and anti-porn laws…Feminists who have any shred of influence invariably use it to be “bad feminists,” whether it’s criminalizing indoor prostitution in Rhode Island or holding tenured women’s studies jobs so they can terrorize impressionable young women into feeling victimized by the world around them…

screaming loony
Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark

A new study suggests that the possible reason women tend to be more talkative than men (20,000 words per day vs. the male average of 7000) is that our brains tend to “have higher levels of a ‘language protein’ called FOXP2”.  Jezebel, of course, exists in a different reality than the rest of us and so DENIES that women tend to be more talkative than men, going on and on and on about it…

Repeat Offenders

The unholy alliance of nuns and SOAP fanatics continues to harass hoteliers in the American Midwest while spreading its extreme version of the “gypsy whores” myth:

…the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus [Ohio] have joined forces with SOAP…[in claiming that] human traffickers…flock to major sporting and other public events.  Their current focus is the Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Expo…[they] call and visit hotels to alert them to the potential for prostitution and trafficking…and…distribute bars of soap…with the phone number of a…trafficking hot line…

A Broker in Pillage

What could possibly go wrong?

A new bill…in Hawaii’s state senate would  expand asset forfeiture to include petty misdemeanors…the Hawaii…ACLU posits that [this]…could lead to all sorts of ridiculously-cruel consequences.  Homeless people could lose their property if they camp out in a park after hours.  Protestors could have their signs, petitions and other assets seized—a chilling effect on the First Amendment.  The bill is backed by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources as a way to protect “natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources”…Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth has lambasted [SB 1342] as “draconian“…state Sen. Russell Ruderman called [it] “outrageous,” [saying] “we should have more safeguards, not less, to protect people from forfeiture abuses.”  The Institute for Justice gave Hawaii a D for its atrocious…forfeiture laws

You’ll be shocked at the identity of one of the biggest supporters of this tyranny:

The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS) supports SB1342…[as part of a campaign to] stiffen penalties for patrons of prostitution…This bill…would be very beneficial in ending the demand for prostitution in Hawaii and would provide another deterrent for patrons who buy humans for sex…

An Example to the West

This letter from a group of Indian feminists in response to the incredibly patronizing behavior of Harvard do-gooders is a perfect example of what Southern ladies call “vinegar pie”: a dish so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.  I have read it three times now and enjoy it more each time.

Pyrrhic Victory

The ACLU’s “nightmare scenario” of drone-enabled universal surveillance is about to become a reality:  “ARGUS-IS…is…a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone.  As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city”:

ARGUS produces a high-resolution video image that covers 15 square miles.  It’s all streamed to the ground and stored, and operators can zoom in upon any small area and watch the footage of that spot…it’s the culmination of the trend towards ever-more-pervasive surveillance cameras in American life.  We’ve been  objecting to that trend for years, and many of our public spaces are now under 24/7 video surveillance—often by cameras owned and operated by the police.  But even in our most pessimistic moments, I don’t think we thought that every street, empty lot, garden, and field would be subject to video monitoring anytime soon.  But that is precisely what this technology could enable.  We’ve speculated  about self-organizing swarms of drones being used to blanket entire cities with surveillance, but this technology makes it clear that nothing that complicated is required…

Legal Is as Legal Does (TW3 #20)

The gradual closure of…state-run brothels is emerging as a controversial tactic in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s declared war on prostitution.  While Erdoğan’s supporters denounce brothels as a form of “slavery,” sex workers fear the campaign poses risks to their health and safety.  Closing…brothels “will not keep men from visiting prostitutes,” explained 48-year-old Istanbul sex worker Berna, “but it will push even more women into illegality and the back streets, where they will be without protection, and without any rights”…Several state-run brothels around the country reportedly already have been closed down – with official reasons including proximity to a new mosque and the nearby discovery of historical artifacts – and others should soon follow…

The Notorious Badge (TW3 #27)

Johanna in Tits and Sass on “Why Anne Hathaway Should Go-Away”:

In last year’s Les Miserables…Anne Hathaway plays Fantine, a single mother [who]…turns to prostitution…Hathaway…[made] various comments…[about] “the lives of sex slaves”… and her attempts to “honor” the experiences of women who are “forced to sell sex”…Much media attention has also been given to the work on her own body Hathaway did to prepare for the role…[including] hair-cutting and drastic weight loss…What seems strange to me…is that Hathaway and the lady bloggers who love her apparently can’t see any similarities between her use of her body in work…and the experiences of sex workers.  Like sex workers, Hathaway’s physicality is central to her job.  Like sex workers, Hathaway has to make decisions about how to deploy her body…but somehow, when she diets to the point of frailness (her words), we call that work; when women in a film give hand jobs, we call it “the darkest place imaginable.”  Fantine cuts off her hair for money and we cry.  Hathaway cuts off her hair (also for money) and we nod admiringly…

Saudi cashierThe Lion and the Ox

The logical end result of “human trafficking” rhetoric:

Employing females as cashiers is a form of human trafficking like sexual exploitation, forced labor and organ trafficking…Objectifying women comes in different forms, such as exploitation in media, advertising, flight attendants, receptionists, and supermarket clerks or cashiers, argues…a graduate research paper at the Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University…Mohammad al-Bogami…writes that Muslim scholars consider it human trafficking if the goal of hiring women is to use their looks to attract customers…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #43)

The view on the Swedish model from inside Norway, with references to Penny Gelder and the play I linked before:

An increasing number of people in Norway are starting to see through the evil…It is in the nature of a moralist a desire to remove something he or she doesn’t like.  Recently, this moralistic mind game has become more and more unmasked…Did you know that children and young people in Norway grow up in a society in which they learn that consensual sex is prohibited?…More and more people are becoming extremely angry and feel that their private sphere is violated.  It is very easy to explain, in a factual and logical way, why this law is one of the greatest assaults on humanity ever…So, why doesn´t Amnesty International or the United Nations take solid action, demanding the Sex Purchase Law to be removed immediately?…The Sex Purchase Law violates absolutely all citizens in a country where it is in effect.  Not only sex workers, because any kind of sex is in fact a trade or transaction.  Thus, any consensual sex would logically be illegal…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (TW3 #136)

Indian sex workers triumph over an attempt at back-door criminalization:

The government has decided not to treat voluntary sex workers above the age of 18 years as victims of trafficking…Following objections by human rights and women organisations, the government is set to delete the term “prostitution” as one of the forms of exploitation which constitutes the offence of trafficking…which…stated that “…the consent of the victim is immaterial”…Justice JS Verma panel…clarified that amended law ought not to be interpreted to permit law enforcement agencies to harass sex workers…and their clients…

Big Sister

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the fantasy that porn prohibition via internet censorship will somehow work in Iceland (despite the fact that it can’t even stop physical contraband like drugs), and the even more farfetched fantasy that it could work in the UK (because, like Iceland, it’s a magical island kingdom separated from the evil, evil world by floating rings of fire).

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To legislate against the moral codes of one’s fellows…is to steal their moral codes, to suppress their characters.  –  R.M. MacIver

Three forays into the bizarre world inhabited by lawheads, and a little good news.

Imaginary Lines (July 7th, 2011)

As this article Grace showed me demonstrates, it’s not only people whom the government subjects to arcane and complex border-crossing regulations, then treats as violent criminals if the paperwork is improperly filled out:

A…supplier of guitar-making parts is ensnared in an international smuggling investigation after federal authorities seized 24 pallets of exotic wood…Luthiers Mercantile International, or LMI, imported the $200,000-worth of Indian rosewood and ebony to sell to Gibson…On Aug. 24, federal agents descended on a Nashville, Tenn., warehouse where LMI’s wood was waiting for Gibson to take possession.  They seized the wood along with Gibson computer hard drives and guitars.  [Federal officials claim] the wood was “unlawfully imported, purchased and received”…[but] LMI officials say minor paperwork mistakes by their import broker on a separate wood shipment led to the raid…Though LMI has imported rosewood from India for decades, the U.S. government is now saying that Indian rosewood fingerboards are an illegal export…

Many of Sonoma County’s estimated 100 luthiers, who depend on tropical exotic hardwoods that have particular resonant qualities, say their futures are at stake…[Tom] Ribbecke, whose guitars are displayed in the Smithsonian Museum…fears that if authorities decide some of [his stock] is illegal, they will take it.  “The Lacey Act…makes all of our material that all of us have been saving and setting aside for our retirement illegal for us to own,” he said…Since 2008, the Lacey Act has made it illegal to bring wood into the United States that was exported illegally from a country of origin…but under World Trade Organization laws…what is legal in one country can appear illegal in another, based on differences in national tariff codes…

In other words, the government is fighting evil wood traffickers, working to rescue innocent boards from being enslaved in guitars, where they are sold to satisfy the sick desires of music lovers.  Don’t you feel safer now?

J’accuse (July 21st, 2011)

As I said in my column of October 23rd, most politicians hire whores at least occasionally, therefore reports that any individual politician hired a whore do not constitute news.  But this October 17th New York Post story on the continuing Dominique Strauss-Kahn hijinks has other features of interest, so I’ve edited it to remove colorful Post inanities like “bootyguard” and “serial sleazeball”:

A top French cop served as [Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s] personal pimp, organizing orgies for him in both France and New York…The new allegations came to light during an investigation into a ring of prostitutes that included underage teens…Sources…[said] that…DSK is among a group of politicians, lawyers and business leaders whose names were found in the ring’s “black book’’ of clients.  The French cop, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, also allegedly escorted ladies of the evening all the way from the French city of Lille, where the ring was headquartered, to New York for DSK.  Strauss-Kahn’s personal prostitutes were allegedly selected for him by a…procurer named Dominique “Dodo’’ Alderweireld, who…has since been arrested.  Lawyer Frederique Beaulieu says Strauss-Kahn “is asking to be questioned to put an end to these insinuations and extrapolations”…but has not yet been contacted by police…Five men…have been arrested in France and charged with pimping…

Welcome to the Wonderland of legalization.  Prostitution is legal in France, but “procuring, aiding or assisting” prostitutes is illegal, as is “living on the avails”.  In other words, it’s OK to be a whore as long as you have no friends, family, employees, assistants, managers or other human contact other than customers.  As soon as you move in with someone, tour with another girl, or pay someone to arrange travel or book appointments for you, your legal business is instantly transformed into a “ring”, your private affairs are a matter for police “investigation” and you are buried under an avalanche of dysphemisms.

Presumption of Guilt (July 29th, 2011)

How many of y’all enjoy shopping at used book or music stores, flea markets and the like?  I sure do.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that every time you walk into such a place you might be surrounded by criminals so dangerous that, according to the Louisiana legislature, the need to catch them justifies outlawing an activity which is literally as old as civilization:

This summer…Louisiana passed a law that bans individuals and businesses from transacting in cash if they are considered a “secondhand dealer”…[which is defined as] “…Anyone, other than a non-profit entity, who buys, sells, trades in or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property more frequently than once per month from any other person, other than a non-profit entity…”  The law then states that “A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property.  Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property…”  The broad scope of this definition can essentially encompass everyone; from your local flea market vendors and buyers to a housewife purchasing goods on ebay or craigslist, to a group of guys trading baseball cards…Louisiana [has] effectively banned its citizens from freely using United States legal tender.

The law goes further to require secondhand dealers to turn over…their business’ proprietary client information.  For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller’s personal information such as their name, address, driver’s license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered.  They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports.  If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction…individuals and businesses are [thus] forced to report routine business activity to the police.  Can law enforcement not accomplish its goal of identifying potential thieves and locating stolen items in a far less intrusive manner?  And of course, there are already laws that prohibit stealing, buying or selling stolen goods, laws that require businesses to account for transactions and laws that penalize individuals and businesses that transact in stolen property.  Why does…Louisiana…need…more laws infringing on personal privacy, liberties and freedom?…Interestingly enough, although Pawnshops are still required to obtain clients’ personal information and transmit their client database information to law enforcement, they are exempt from the restriction of cash payments.  A jeweler next door to a pawnshop cannot offer clients the same payment method offered by its competing pawnshop neighbor…

The excuse used to justify this blatant tax grab and surveillance method was a recent increase in copper robberies.  The pillage of cables for their copper always increases during periods of high metal prices and/or high unemployment, but somehow government has always managed to deal with it before without requiring merchants to record the license plate numbers of little old ladies trading in romance novels or university students selling CDs they’re tired of.  But that’s because we used to have this thing called “presumption of innocence”; well, it was nice while it lasted.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

My column of one year ago today discussed examples of the way that public opinion is slowly changing in our favor, and here’s a new one; on August 20th the 60-year-old Society for the Study of Social Problems adopted a resolution stating that it supports decriminalization:

WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work negotiated between consenting adults perpetuates violence and social stigma against sex workers, including by law enforcement…WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work denies sex workers basic human and civil rights, including healthcare and housing, extended to workers in other trades, occupations, callings, or professions; WHEREAS the decriminalization of prostitution would lead to safer working conditions and better health for both the worker and client, and allow workers to report nonconsensual activities to law enforcement without fear of being arrested…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SSSP supports:  (1) bipartisan legislation to decriminalize prostitution (2) public education regarding the costs of policing sex workers and (3) normalization of the occupation.

You can read the full text at the link; it was written by Jenny Heineman, co-coordinator of SWOP Las Vegas, which was also honored by the SSSP at a banquet.  This is a small change, but it has to start somewhere; the ACLU is pro-decriminalization as well (though they rarely say anything about it), and every professional organization we can win to the cause gives us that much more credibility in the eyes of the public and politicians.

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Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
  –  Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”

When my husband and I first met he lived in the Los Angeles area, and after we were engaged I would travel there several times a year to spend a few weeks with him, leaving Grace to run the agency except for my shift on the phones.  Occasionally we had to run down to San Diego, north of which (along Interstate 5) lies an immigration control center which in those days was rarely open, thus allowing undocumented migrants to pass through the area unmolested.  Whenever we would pass and see this, my husband would say something like “I guess they must need dishwashers in Los Angeles or vegetable pickers in the Sacramento Valley.”

This was his way of pointing out what Americans who support greater restrictions on immigration love to ignore:  that the majority of jobs they whine about immigrants “stealing” from “real Americans” (most of whom are themselves no more than three generations removed from immigrants) are those no native American would touch, such as agricultural labor.  Some of them have an answer for that:  “if they paid higher wages they could get American workers.”  Of course, increased production costs would increase the price of the produce and any finished product which relied on it, which the anti-immigrant people would then complain about; perhaps these good Americans believe the farmers should simply accept decreased profits, or that the federal government should subsidize the greater costs?  But that would be socialism, wouldn’t it?  And judging by the noise these folks raise about the costs of “illegals” (as they’re so fond of calling them), they obviously aren’t in favor of that.

Proponents of tighter immigration are fond of saying immigrants need to “get in line”. Here, courtesy of Reason magazine, is a flow chart of that “line” (click to enlarge, and again to magnify).

I’m not denying that there are migrants who cross into welfare states in order to sponge off of their largesse, but how are they different from home-grown freeloaders?  A parasite is a parasite, and judging by America’s ever-increasing government bureaucracies, we have nothing against them.  Contrary to what the pundits claim, the majority of migrants want to work for a living, just as the majority of native-born citizens do, and since they are often willing to work harder, longer and more cheaply at less-pleasant jobs than those born to the softer life of a developed nation, they can out-compete natives at such jobs.  That’s called capitalism, folks; it’s what made this country the wealthiest one in the world, and if you don’t like it I’m sure there are a number of nice socialist (and a couple of leftover communist) countries to which you could yourself migrate.

So why am I discussing this topic?  Well, it’s partly because as I mentioned in my columns of June 22nd and 29th, increasing anxiety about unorthodox methods of migration is one of the root causes of “trafficking” hysteria, which is then conflated with prostitution and results in ever-more-Draconian prostitution laws and greatly increased anti-whore police activity, and that makes it my business.  But it’s also because I’m really sick of hearing the lawhead phrase “illegal alien”, which is of course intended to make them sound like criminals.  How, pray tell, are arbitrary immigration laws any different from the arbitrary laws you break?  Don’t say you don’t break laws, because everyone does.  And I don’t mean Silverglate’s inadvertent felonies (which are an entirely different issue); I mean the victimless “crimes” that you, I and everyone else purposefully choose to commit on a regular basis.  There is no moral difference between a migrant choosing to violate an arbitrary immigration law in order to have a chance for a better life, my violating arbitrary laws against my profession, your failing to pay state use taxes for online purchases, or your brother-in-law smoking weed.  And all of those actions are far more moral than the rampant violations we as a nation allow cops and prosecutors to commit every day, because their actions genuinely hurt people (often grievously), whereas breaking of arbitrary codes, statutes, ordinances and rules almost never does.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately, and when I read this New York Times article posted on June 22nd, I felt it was time to write a column about the subject.  The article is the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines who came to the U.S. in 1993 when he was 12, worked hard to learn English, discovered he was “illegal” when he was 16, excelled in school and became a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist…only to be told that the only way he could ever become “legal” was to accept a ten-year exile before reapplying (presumably this is intended as a paternalistic “punishment”, the governmental equivalent of “go to your room and don’t come out until I tell you”).  Vargas decided it was time to to tell his story in the hopes of educating people about the myths and realities of undocumented migrants, and a few of the things he said in his article may sound very familiar to my prostitute readers:

…I am still an undocumented immigrant.  And that means living a different kind of reality.  It means going about my day in fear of being found out.  It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am…There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.  We’re not always who you think we are.  Some pick your strawberries or care for your children.  Some are in high school or college.  And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read.  I grew up here.  This is my home.  Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

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