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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Criminalizing fiction is thoughtcrime.  –  Prostasia

Thought Control 

Imagine your home being fired upon and a heavily armed SWAT team busting through your front door, all so that the government can stop people from reading fiction.  It sounds like a scenario from a dystopian novel, but this really happened on November 7, 2019, when FBI agents raided the home of Thomas Arthur, the administrator of an erotic fiction archive, charging him with obscenity-related crimes.  His trial will be an important test case, which will determine whether the government is entitled to do this.  Prostasia Foundation is assisting in the defense, by arranging for an art censorship expert to testify as a witness. But we need your help to cover their costs…The prosecution of Mr Arthur for hosting text-only stories is outrageous, and it cannot be allowed to succeed…

Under Every Bed 

This regurgitation of debunked nonsense is pathetic even by cop standards:

A girl sitting…in a car…might be a sign of human trafficking…[cops & prosecutors stroking themselves]…100,000 and 300,000 children in the United States are victims of…sex trafficking each year…[the Shahada]…[more cops & prosecutors stroking themselves]…proactive …underage girls or boys prostituted in the illegal commercial sex industry…The handlers of these [inanimate] victims move them around a lot…brainwashed, emotionally controlled…conditioned to protect that pimp…”they don’t know they need rescued [sic]”…the victim runs away from that safe place…Children…18 or older…One in six runaways are sex trafficking victims…the average age of death is 34…”we’re on I-65″…100 percent genuine victims…

Guinea Pigs

To flush civil rights, just apply a label like “prostitute” or “gang member”:

…Salt Lake City…District Attorney Sim Gill [pre]tends that, because…he [chose to charge] protesters…[as] a group…their…charges are subject to a “gang” enhancement.  One of those protesters, Madalena McNeil, is accused of buying red paint that was splashed on the outside of Gill’s office building…police…subpoenaed McNeil’s Venmo account and filed an affidavit targeting state [politician] Derek Kitchen—who did not attend the protest in question—over a $10 Venmo payment with the caption “paint” the previous month…experts suggest…this…saga [h]as [become] a caricature of law-enforcement overkill…

The original story was included in Links #528.

Rooted in Racism (#966)

The racism of European “anti-trafficking” schemes is getting harder to disguise:

…[In the first weeks of November] more than 100 people [died] at sea in four separate shipwrecks within less than 72 hours [while]…six NGO rescue ships remain blocked in port by…European authorities…Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, [Medecins Sans Frontieres’] Humanitarian Affairs Advisor [said]…“For European governments…to say they are saddened by this horrendous loss of life is hypocritical at best,…They need to stop with the double-speak and admit their responsibility:  shipwrecks like this are the direct outcome of their approach to migration.”  Nearly 700 people have died in their attempt to escape Libya across the central Mediterranean during 2020, and…rather than meeting their international and maritime obligations to assist those in distress at sea, European states have chosen to further decimate search and rescue capacity…European states must stop blaming this loss of life…on [so-called] traffickers.  They must instead accept that the mass loss of life in these incidents are the human collateral of their own calculated and political decision-making…

A Broker in Pillage (#1062)

A good argument for refusing to roll over and let yourself be robbed:

The…DEA…will return more than $43,000 it seized from a Tampa woman at an airport after she joined a class-action lawsuit challenging the agency’s practice of [robbing people] using civil asset forfeiture…The DEA seized $43,167 from Stacy Jones last May as she was trying to fly home to Tampa, Florida, from Wilmington, North Carolina…the cash was from the sale of a used car, as well as money she and her husband intended to take to a casino.  Jones is now a named plaintiff in a class-action civil rights lawsuit filed in January by the Institute for Justice…Although it is legal to fly domestically with large amounts of undeclared cash, the…DEA and…TSA…have a practice or policy of s[teal]ing currency from travelers at U.S. airports without probable cause simply if the dollar amount is greater than $5,000…

The Implosion Begins (#1069)

The moral panic continues to spin wildly out of control:

An Oklahoma man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 10-month-old infant has repeatedly made Facebook posts in support of the…QAnon [variant of “sex trafficking” hysteria]…Joshua Jennings…was arrested…on charges of first-degree murder…

Tissue of Lies (#1087)

Cops all over the US are trying to shore up the dying “sex trafficking” mythology by combining arrests of sex workers and clients and pretending they’re related:

Tallahassee police wrapped…two-year[s worth of small]-scale…prostitution a[rrests together and called it a]…human trafficking…investigation…[cops claim they] saw images of a child posted on a [sex work ad] website…[and yet only adults were] arrest[ed]…106 were charged with felonies [such as “pimping”] and 72…were charged with misdemeanors…

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The police department was…dead-set on making sure those records never reached the public.  –  David James

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

As usual, police were disinterested in catching him until he started killing non-whores:

The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has died at the age of 74. The serial killer was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women…he…died in hospital where he is said to have refused treatment for Covid-19…Sutcliffe, who was also found guilty of the attempted murder of seven women, was convicted in 1981…His killings began with..Wilma McCann…who[m he] hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times, in October 1975…Sutcliffe’s [other] victims…[were] Wilma McCann…[in] October 1975…Emily Jackson…[in] January 1976…Irene Richardson…[in] February 1977…Patricia Atkinson…[in] April 1977…Jayne McDonald…[in] June 1977…Jean Jordan…[in] October 1977…Yvonne Pearson…[in] January 1978…Helen Rytka…[in] January 1978…Vera Millward…[in] May 1978…Josephine Whittaker…[in] May 1979…Barbara Leach…[in] September 1979…Marguerite Walls…[in] August 1980…[and] Jacqueline Hill…[in] November 1980…Sutcliffe…believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes, although not all of his victims were sex workers….Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times during the course of the investigation but continued to avoid arrest and was able to carry on with his killings…

Like Houses

Useful idiots never see where “hate speech” laws inevitably lead:

[Useful idiots] in Norway are celebrating [what they imagine to be] a huge win after the country recently expanded its penal code…[on] hate speech to include gender identity and all forms of “sexual orientation”…The penal code states that those who are guilty of [wrongspeak] face a fine or up to a year in jail for private comments, and a maximum of three years in jail for public remarks. Furthermore, those charged [wrongthink in conjunction with] with violent crimes…will receive harsher sentences…

To Molest and Rape (#782)

“Police explorer” programs are nothing but grooming schemes for predatory cops:

Louisville Metro Police concealed at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of Explorer Scouts by two [rapist cops] — then lied to keep the files from the public…The [Louisville] Courier Journal last year requested all records regarding sexual abuse of minors…in the Explorer Scout program [by Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts]…Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office [claimed] they couldn’t comply, insisting all the records had been turned over to the FBI for its investigation.  But that was…[a lie].  In fact, the department still had at least 738,000 records, which the city allowed to be deleted.  The records could shed light on when department and city officials first learned of [the Rape Explorer]…program and what the officials…failed to do…about it…

Suppression

Politicians will not stop until they can censor the internet as they please:

…a single EU court within a single EU member state [has declared itself] the censor for the world…In…September…the Austrian Supreme Court ordered, pursuant to local defamation rules, that Facebook remove a post insulting a [politician]…keep equivalent posts off its site, and do so on a global scale…Facebook complied…[by making] the…post…inaccessible to users within Austria.  But it objected both to the global reach of the order and to the obligation to look for and keep other, equivalent posts off their site…the European Court of Justice sided with Austria…Under current practice,…global tech companies are [only] bound by local laws…within their jurisdiction…Think Germany’s hate-speech laws.  Or particular variants of the right to be forgotten. Or the Thai government’s prohibition on critique of the monarch.  Or Singapore’s limitations on what is deemed “fake news”…Under the Austrian court precedent, courts in any such jurisdiction would be more or less free to apply their local laws to compel not just local, but global takedowns of posts or comments that violate the vagaries (and often highly speech-restrictive) of local law.  And they could also require that copycat and equivalent posts be kept off—also on a global scale.  This creates a…race to the bottom, with the most censor-prone nation setting global speech rules…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1062)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is no better as an accusation than as a defense:

Former Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry was widely known as a sex addict at the network before he raped a junior staffer, a new lawsuit charges…Fox…fired Henry…shortly before [Jennifer] Eckhart went public with her allegations in July…The suit…states that the network ordered Henry to undergo therapy for sex addiction in 2016 after it was revealed he’d had an affair with a Las Vegas stripper…“Everyone at Fox News knows that Henry is a sex addict. That’s no secret,” Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart, according to the suit…

“‘Everyone at Fox News knows Tucker Carlson is a reptilian member of the Illuminati,’ Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart…”

(State) Violence Against Women

Biden has a long history of using “violence against women” as an excuse for power grabs that increase state violence against women:

President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to end [un-state-approved] violence against women is long, detailed, and ambitious…but…[i]s conspicuously missing any mention of sex work…Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, first introduced by Biden in 1990, will be one of Biden’s top first 100 day priorities…a relatively short but important section of the plan outlines Biden’s intent to [censor the internet by]…creating a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse, giving more funding to law enforcement, and support for [more carceral] federal and state legislation [to use against sex workers who adverise online]…experts…have reservations about how this plan will…actually affect…the lives of…sex workers.  Leaving consensual, commercial adult content out of any plan for internet reform would be willfully ignoring how the internet largely works…

The Last Shall Be First (#1078)

Hungarian politicians are as potty-obsessed as their US counterparts:

…[the government of] Hungary…signalled its intention to…change the constitution to enshrine…so-called “Christian values”…The proposed constitutional amendment…is the latest assault on LGBT rights in the country, where legal recognition for gender changes was ended in May.  “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with”…the amendment states…[it also] would ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children…For years, Viktor Orbán’s government has relied on an anti-migration agenda…and some analysts suggest LGBT people may be the new target.  In Poland, the ruling populist Law and Justice (PiS) party has made the fight against so-called “LGBT ideology” central to its political messaging…The new laws will have to be debated in parliament, but Orbán’s Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority, sufficient to make constitutional amendments…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1085)

Is Hollywood finally starting to back off from promoting “sex trafficking” hysteria?

Melissa McCarthy and HBO Max have announced that they’re pulling their support for the evangelical nonprofit Exodus Cry as part of their “20 Days of Kindness” fundraising campaign…“We blew it,” McCarthy said in a video posted to Instagram…“We made a mistake and we backed a charity that upon further vetting stands for everything that we do not”…Exodus Cry frames itself as an anti-sex-trafficking group but in reality works to abolish sex work entirely.  Its founder, Benjamin Nolot, has called abortion a “holocaust” and homosexuality “an unspeakable offense to God”…the group has spent years lobbying to criminalize the purchase of sex and recently launched a campaign to shutter Pornhub…

To Molest and Rape (#1087)

Oh, what a surprise:  “A Harford County grand jury has added 10 counts of child pornography possession to the child sex abuse case against [typical and representative] Baltimore [cop] Donald P. Hildebrandt…

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 [A Biden victory] is not a victory for sex workers.  –  Penelope Saunders

A False Dichotomy 

Cathy Reisenwitz on the dogma that sex without “enthusiastic consent” is rape:

…most of our choices in life…[a]re not straightforwardly coercive or cooperative, but somewhere in-between…This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that consent versus coercion isn’t a binary.  It’s a spectrum…On one end of the spectrum you have slavery and rape.  On the opposite end you have enthusiastic consent.  But most choices fall somewhere in the middle…When we say we are “forced” to make a choice, we mean that there’s no acceptable alternative.  We say we’ve been forced to do something if the alternative is death or jail.  When we say we’re “pressured” to make a choice, what we mean is there’s no appealing alternative.  We say we’ve been pressured to do something if the alternative is unpleasant or inconvenient.  The difference then between force and pressure is a difference of scope, not kind.  They’re both coercion, but are different levels of coercion…

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

While it’s not surprising to see male sex work increase during the pandemic, I’m extremely skeptical of claims, such as those in this story, that the clients are predominantly female.  Anti-queer stigma is much higher in India than in the US, so naturally male sex workers there are going to claim – as some did for decades in the US – that most of their clients are female in order to save face.  But as usual, the claims in this story don’t ring true, and the quotes from the interviewees only serve to underscore that.

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

…a…Seattle Police…detective…signed up for and used facial recognition app Clearview AI, which…i[s a] violation of the City of Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance…Nick Kartes…signed up for Clearview in September 2019 using his “@seattle.gov” work email address…he logged into the service over 30 times, as recently as April 22…the devices used to log into Detective Kartes’ account were connected to the City of Seattle network…This follows an established pattern, highlighted this summer, where Seattle police regularly flaunt the law…

But don’t worry, toothless local laws will definitely stop this!

Panopticon (#993)

Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops just keeps getting worse:

…While people buy Ring cameras and put them on their front door to keep their packages safe, police use them to build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods.  This…allows police departments to [shift] the cost of buying surveillance equipment…onto consumers by convincing them they need cameras to keep their property safe…[and] evades the natural reaction of fear and distrust that many people would have if they learned police were putting up dozens of cameras on their block…Now…police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program t[o convince]…Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to…police…footage [of] your…coming and going…your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street…can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock.  Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police[, plus all cops need do is ask and Amazon will grant warrantless access to your camera without your consent]…


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

Thailand’s government said…it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship…many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the shutting of a site in a country…which has a globally-known sex industry…A few dozen activists protested the block outside the digital ministry, holding banners saying “free Pornhub” and “reclaim Pornhub”…Internet research firm Top10VPN said it saw a spike in searches from Thailand for Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which help circumvent censorship, by 640%…after Pornhub was [censored]…

And India:

The Cyber Police agency of the Indian state of Maharashtra — the region that includes populous Mumbai — has formally accused several platforms of “transmitting sexually explicit and obscene content online”…[the sites include] Xvideos and Pornhub.  Inspector General of Police Yashasvi Yadav [made furtive movements in his pants while sharing his fantasy that]…”the actresses in these videos have been exploited, lured or compelled to perform the obscene acts. We will be treating the actresses as ‘victims’ and not ‘accused persons’”…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

Since costumed rapists are essentially immune to criminal law, civil law has to do:

A new lawsuit [has been] filed against [typical and representative] Louisville [cop] Brett Hankison…a…sexual predator…who…[has] willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently…[raped at least 10 women over the years and achieved recent notoriety for the murder] of…Breonna Taylor…LMPD has…fired Hankison for his role in the [murder, but ignored all the rape complaints]…nine o[f the] women who…Hankison [raped have made statements in the lawsuit, filed by Margo Borders, a lawyer he raped in 2018]…

(State) Violence Against Women

Two hardline prohibitionists at the top do not bode well for sex workers:

…Phoenix Calida…[of] SWOP-USA…says of a Biden win, “I see things getting worse for sex workers, actually.”  Calida’s assessment is due in part to Biden’s sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill…“‘Tough on crime,’ which Biden has really promoted his entire career, is really not helpful at all to sex workers…Biden is like, ‘Let’s not defund the police, let’s give them more money!’”  Advocates’ concerns around…Kamala Harris, are both more numerous and concrete.  “You couldn’t get a candidate with a worse record on sex work,” says [Penelope] Saunders of [Best Practices Policy Project].  In 2008, Harris called San Francisco’s Proposition K—an attempt at halting the enforcement of laws against prostitution—“completely ridiculous.”  Harris also infamously pursued the shutdown of Backpage and the prosecution of the site’s owners despite warnings that shuttering the site would put sex workers in greater danger and make it harder to investigate sex trafficking cases. (It did.)  She also helped develop the devastating SESTA/FOSTA, specifically as a means of targeting Backpage…[and supports]…the EARN IT Act, a bill…which threatens sex workers’ ability to use encrypted messaging services…as well as free speech online…opponents of the bill…are calling it “SESTA/FOSTA 2.0.”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

Compare the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Democrats in this article to attack someone closely associated with Trump, to the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Republicans just a month earlier to attack someone closely associated with Biden, and then tell me again how they’re so different and why sex workers should trust either pack of fanatics:  “President Trump’s top campaign strategist, Jason Miller…admitted to hiring prostitutes and receiving sexual favors at multiple ‘Asian themed’ massage parlors, an industry known to have connections to sex trafficking rings…”  “Progressives” want sex workers to believe they’re on our side, but they go straight for the anti-whore slurs the second they think it will win them cheap points on the “other team”.

Social Distancing (#1084)

Prohibitionists don’t care who has to suffer to advance their twisted agenda:

India’s sex workers suffered a setback…following a U-turn by the country’s human rights body, which said [sex workers] should not be registered as workers or guaranteed financial aid from the government amid the fallout of COVID-19.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last month asked state governments to recognise sex workers as informal workers, which would have entitled them to benefits and aid from a $23 billion fund for India’s poor during the coronavirus pandemic…the watchdog’s non-binding advisory was hailed by [human rights experts]… as a boon for the rights of an estimated 800,000 sex workers across India, [but prohibitionists, led by the evil and deeply-derangd Sunitha Krishnan, worked to intimidate the commission by issuing veiled threats of expensive and troublesome legal complaints based in bad “]sex trafficking[” laws.  In response to these threats]…The NHRC…issued a new statement that said sex workers could not be registered officially or categorised as informal workers….[but] should instead be given help on “humanitarian grounds” during the pandemic…

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We’re not…doing anything…criminal…It’s the laws that are criminal.  –  Emily, UK sex worker

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Just protecting and serving:

…[typical and representative Bakersfield, CA cops] Logan August and Derrick Penney pleaded guilty to a massive conspiracy in which they would arrest people for selling drugs only to turn around and use those drugs to enrich themselves.  These two [typical and representative] cops received probation only, for their crimes…last year August was charged — again — with with 15 felony counts, including conspiracy and burglary, in connection with stealing over 400 pounds of drugs from a sheriff’s storage locker and [selling] them…he…was sentenced to four years in prison…

The Course of a Disease (#606) 

Swedish model fanatics just won’t stop trying to impose their filth on the UK:

Dame Diana Johnson…[bloviated a lot of paternalistic nonsense claim]ing [that]…men in the UK who…[seek consensual] sex were “fuelling a brutal sex-trafficking trade that is destroying lives”.  She [also called websites which sell advertising space to sex workers] “pimping websites” [and said they] should be [magically] banned [even though the internet is international]…The Home Office said its priority was to…target…vulnerable people…[especially from] Romania…[on] BBC Radio 4’s Today programme [Johnson shared her sexual fantasies about passive, doll-like]…women trafficked to the UK…from Romania and…sold into the sex trade…

Like Houses

Naturally useful idiots are surprised, though this was as predictable as sunrise:

…[Columbia South Carolina]’s…hate speech ordinance…has been invoked seven times since it was enacted more than a year ago…five of six accused of using racial slurs are people of color.  One [other black] person is accused of derogatory language related to sexual orientation…lawyers for some of those charged [have pointed out that]…the new rule [criminalizes]…speech protected under the First Amendment…two of the accused [were] homeless [black men targeted by]…the same [cop]…

Stalkers in Blue

No woman is safe from sexually-aggressive cops:

A New Jersey [cop]…harass[ed a teenage girl with]…sexually explicit text messages…after he arrested her…Damien Broschart…arrested her on drug charges and several traffic violations…[then] deactivated his body camera and mobile video recorder and asked for her phone number…Broschart went on to send “sexually explicit messages” and tried to meet her at her home after his shift ended…but she refused and…blocked his phone number…he [then] called her three [more] times from the [cop shop phone] and left a message requesting a call back…she…instead reported [him]…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#1004) 

As long as any part of sex work is criminalized, cops will have power over sex workers:

Hundreds of people have been arrested for [sex work using the pretext of “]brothel-keeping[“]…in the last four years under laws that sex workers [have repeatedly explained] put them at risk…While selling sex is legal in the UK, keeping a brothel – defined as more than one sex worker working from premises – is not…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#1064) 

But this isn’t trafficking, no sirree:

U.S. border [thugs] have been expelling migrant children from other countries into Mexico…[using] the [pretext of] coronavirus…[even though] the terms upon which the Mexican government agreed to help implement the order…were that only Mexican children…who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border…children from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador [have been intentionally put] at risk by sending them with no accompanying adult into a country where they have no family connections…The expulsions, which appear to number more than 200 over the past eight months, reflect the haphazard nature with which many of the administration’s most aggressive immigration policies have been introduced…

You Were Warned (#1073)

Authoritarians all want the same thing, but please tell me more about “wings”:

The comforting anonymity in spaces made for and by queer or questioning people…is the first step for many in accepting their identities.  We take them for granted now, but the creation of these spaces was never preordained…The internet went in this direction because Congress chose to codify common law precedent and extend First Amendment protections to online communities and moderators…Section 230 established that legal liability for illegal content online should be aimed at the individual who shared it rather than the platform that hosted it.  It is based on the very reasonable principle that individuals, rather than the tools they use, hold responsibility for their own actions..[but] today, Section 230 is under the attack from…politic[ians]…at least 10 bills have been introduced to significantly alter Section 230…to…flip the current incentives for websites to allow speech…If I were a lawyer for Facebook or Reddit and Section 230 was revoked, I’d urge them to remove all content that had a hint of controversy to protect us from legal liability…That’s exactly what happened after Congress passed SESTA-FOSTA, which…made sex work far more dangerous…

Tissue of Lies (#1087)

Is the word “trafficking” missing here because of the pushback on other, similar scams?

A [so-called] rescue operation in Virginia resulted in [cops bragging about what they’re calling] the recovery of 27 missing children…[and infantiled young adults, mostly from non-custodial parents]…Deputy US Marshals l[abel]ed the five-day effort…”Operation Find Our Children.”  They collaborated with the agency’s Fugitive Task Force [because many of the arrested young people were actually fleeing abusive parents]…the…Deputy Attorney General [bloviated a great deal and bragged about how big the cops’ dicks are]…

To Molest and Rape (#1087)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

Rodney Vicknair was the first New Orleans [cop] to arrive at the scene when a 15-year-old girl reported being [raped], and he drove the teen and her mother to a hospital for a [rape kit].  But in later calls and meetings, his own agency says, Vicknair began [trying to seduce] the girl with compliments about her body, asked her for her underwear and [groped] her…Vicknair [was fired and arrested and faces up to 23 years in prison]…

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Authoritarians are apparently unable to conceive of any solution to any problem that doesn’t depend upon some kind of enforcers using violence to impose “regulations” conceived of by the ruling elite, with any deviation punished by still more violence.  It doesn’t matter whether the problem is man-made or natural, intentional or unintentional, widespread or sporadic, common or rare, or even real or unreal, because the point of the proposed “solutions” isn’t actually to solve anything, but rather to seize more power for the rulers and their enforcers.  If anything, real solutions (however brutal and destructive to human rights) are far less desirable than busywork “solutions” (preferably involving a massive, unaccountable bureaucracy and a boatload of new criminal laws) which do little if anything to solve the problem and therefore result in a new, permanent way to subjugate and bleed the peons.  And wholly imaginary problems are superior (in the short run) to real ones, because without a real subject to examine, it’s harder for foes of the regime to collect actual facts with which to undermine the supposedly-benevolent tyranny.  Reason‘s J.D. Tuccille has recently published two articles on the subject, one about tyranny imposed using a real problem as an excuse, and the other about similar tyranny justified by an imaginary “problem” that mostly exists in animal fears and petty intolerance.  And as you might expect, there isn’t a lot of difference:

We’re told that life is never getting back to normal, so we need to suck it up and accept a world of mask-wearing, economic disruption, and social distancing…government responses to COVID-19 are pushing the world toward authoritarianism…dressed up as if that’s a good thing.  That’s unfortunate, given that less-intrusive responses to the pandemic are proving at least as effective as heavy-handed ones…authoritarian tools may become permanent because government officials are rarely punished for doing something, even if the something is awful and counterproductive…In addition…crises are excellent excuses for accumulating unprecedented authority and using it in novel ways.  “For authoritarian-minded leaders, the coronavirus crisis is offering a convenient pretext to silence critics and consolidate power,” Human Rights Watch cautioned in April.  “The ‘lockdown measures’ adopted by many European states have disproportionately impacted racialized individuals and groups who were targeted with violence, discriminatory identity checks, forced quarantines and fines,” Amnesty International reported in June…”Governments…have exploited [the pandemic] to crack down on journalism and silence criticism,” the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression noted in July…Public health excuses continue to ride roughshod over protections for individual rights…

Compare with this:

…as the world wrestles with a pandemic and overbearing public health measures, [politicians] are taking the opportunity to tighten the screws on speech they don’t like…the French National Assembly…[tried to] give companies [only a single] hour…to [censor] content [it] alleged…to glorify terrorist activity or to constitute child pornography…France’s Constitutional Court struck down the vast majority of the law as an unconstitutional threat to freedom of expression.  That’s really the only good news to report so far.  France’s blocked…law was inspired by Germany’s notorious NetzDG law, which makes online platforms liable for illegal content…”the NetzDG conscripts social media companies into governmental service as content regulators,” with millions of euros in fines hanging over their heads if they guess wrong.  That model of delegated censorship has proven to be as infectious as a viral outbreak, taking hold in over a dozen other countries…”Europe’s most influential democracy has contributed to the further erosion of global Internet freedom by developing and legitimizing a prototype of online censorship by proxy that can readily be adapted to serve the ends of authoritarian states,” Justitia, a Danish judicial thinktank, warned in a 2019 report…The U.S. faces its own speech- and privacy-threatening legislation in the form of the [so-called] EARN IT…Act…which…”would allow small website owners to be sued or prosecuted under state laws, as long as the prosecution or lawsuit [can be pretended to be] related to crimes against children,” warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  “We know how websites will react to this. Once they face prosecution or lawsuits based on other peoples’ speech, they’ll monitor their users, and censor or shut down discussion forums”…

Governments have been embracing this fascist power-delegation model – using threats in order to force corporations to exercise tyrannies their constitutions and other legal instruments prohibit to government – for over a decade now, always using scarecrows like “terrorism” and “sex offenders” and “human trafficking” in order to put the masses to sleep about it.  So when COVID came along, it was 100% predictable that they would seize upon it to feed their insatiable hunger for power, while telling their gullible subjects it’s for their own good.

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Think of the ramifications…if everyone who searched something…was subject to interviews by federal agents.  –  Todd Spodek

To Molest and Rape

Given that the badge is a weapon, most rape by cops is “on duty”:

Purcell [Oklahoma cop]…Jason Baca [raped a] woman…in [August and was rewarded with a]…paid [vacation until] an arrest warrant was [finally] issued [on October 7th] and he turned himself in at the [jail]…

Served Cold (#797) 

This megalomaniac’s antics have grown so bizarre even prohibitionists can no longer ignore it:

A Utah prosecutor is investigating Operation Underground Railroad – one of the best-known organizations [profiting from hysteria over] human trafficking.  Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings…[declined to] specif[y] why O.U.R…is under investigation.  However, in recent posts to his Instagram account, Rawlings implied a local nonprofit was conducting illegal fundraising efforts by taking credit for arrests made by [cops]…Rawlings suggested some witnesses have been hindered by nondisclosure agreements…“Just because someone claims they are called of God when asking for your money does not necessarily mean they actually are.”  Rawlings ended that post with the hashtags: “#fraud #scam #crime.”  In a later post, Rawlings included copies of Utah’s statutes against communications fraud and witness tampering…

I Spy (#930)

Curiosity offends the state, comrade:

…Google has provided police information on users based on keyword searches….[pigs demanded] the company…disclose the IP addresses of everyone who had looked up words relevant to their [snooping, rooting and prying]…The troubling practice came to light when police in Florida investigated an incident where a woman who had accused singer R. Kelly of sexual assault had her car vandalized outside her home…police “sent a search warrant to Google that requested information on users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson”…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1060) 

Illinois readers can get $400 from the copZucker:

Facebook users in Illinois can now apply to collect from a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit…filed over Facebook’s collection and storing of biometric data…without…consent.  As part of the $650 million settlement, claimants may be eligible for payments of between $200-$400, depending on the number of valid claims filed…by…users…for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011…Claimants must have been a resident of Illinois for at least 183 days (six months) to be eligible.  Claims must be filed by November 23, 2020…

You Were Warned (#1073)

Congress won’t stop until it controls the internet:

U.S. [politicians]—who have been tossing whatever claims of bad deeds they can at Big Tech for a good while—are now angling for antitrust law changes that they say are necessary to [control] Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google…the House…antitrust committee put out a 450-page report on the subject…result[ing from] a 16-month-long investigation [during which]…representatives barraged the CEOs of all four companies with inane and irrelevant questions in a public hearing…There’s scant evidence of elements…necessary for an antitrust violation…[so] the…report calls for “for sweeping changes to federal laws so that government regulators can [control] Silicon Valley”…The whole thing has followed the bipartisan playbook previously in use with Backpage and Craigslist…That is: Pick the biggest examples of a tech company or phenomenon that the government wants to curb or stop, subpoena a bazillion internal documents under some trumped-up pretense of criminal activity, and go fishing for something that can be spun into a call for congressional action…changing the underpinnings of internet and business and speech law in a way more friendly to federal control

The Widening Gyre (#1078)

The hysteria over Cuties keeps growing:

Netflix is now facing felony charges for Cuties, as [hysteria over]…the…film [spins out of control]…A Tyler County, Texas, grand jury indicted the streaming giant…for promoting…material that “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child…younger than 18 years of age” for the “prurient interest in sex.”  The document also [pretends] that the film held no serious “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”…[meanwhile, Utah politician] Mike Lee…said…he was “unsatisfied” with Netflix’s response to his letter [demanding censorship]…of the film [on his say-so]…

Social Distancing (#1081)

Are physicians finally standing up to authoritarian ideas about public health?

The World Health Organisation [i]s…calling for world [politicians] to stop locking down their countries and economies.  Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO…[told politicians] to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method…Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer…The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it…It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year.  We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition”…

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[COVID-19 schemes] are throwing the working class under the bus.  –  Dr. Martin Kulldorff

Don’t Take My Word For It (#592)

The Australian site Mama Mia, like the US site Jezebel, seems unable to make up its collective mind about sex work.  It has often published anti-sex work propaganda, like its notorious “Faces of Prostitution” article from March 2015 (which featured pictures of bruised, emaciated, drug-ravaged women accompanied with propaganda text from the notorious Christian anti-sex group “Exodus Cry”), or the October 2013 article in which it opined that for sex workers to have Amazon wishlists was “creepy” and “bizarre” (Jezebel wrote on the same topic the same week).  On the other hand, it also published several good articles by the late Grace Bellavue, and now this new one interviewing a male escort who caters to women, and one of his clients.  And of course Jezebel now features the pro-sex work writer Tracy Clark-Flory, so maybe there’s hope for both sites yet.

Unchristian Nation (#907)

Government thugs continue their crusade against Christian charity:

Border Patrol [thugs abducted] 19 people [from] a No More Deaths camp near Arivaca, Ariz., on [October 4th]…12 were in the country without [document]ation…[and] the remaining seven…were No More Deaths volunteers…No More Deaths representatives described the incident as a “military-style” raid with a “massive show of armed force”…[including] “dozens” of trucks…and a [tank]…This was the second raid against the humanitarian camp south of Tucson, near the U.S.-Mexico border, this year, and along with the escalated actions, Border Patrol officials also amped up their rhetoric against the group, [referr]ing t[o] the organization[‘s]…saving lives…as “harboring” people…

Between the Ears (#923)

Yet another ill-conceived, internet-connected dick gadget:

…the Qiui Cellmate internet-connected chastity lock…works by allowing a trusted partner to remotely lock and unlock the chamber over Bluetooth using a mobile app.  That app communicates with the lock using an API.  But that API was left open and without a password, allowing anyone to take complete control of any user’s device.  Because the chamber was designed to lock with a metal ring underneath the user’s penis…it may require the intervention of a heavy-duty bolt cutter or an angle grinder to free the user…There is no emergency override function either…Qiui, based in China…missed the three self-imposed deadlines to fix the vulnerable API…Several user reviews of the app complained that the app [also] had bugs that would cause the device to stay locked…Qiui joins a long list of sex toys with security problems that inherently don’t exist in non-internet-connected devices…Practice safe sex; don’t use a smart device.

Counterfeit Comfort (#984)

Halloween has become a focal point for challenging “sex offender” awfulness:

Every year in the run-up to Halloween, Patch publishes maps showing the homes of “registered sex offenders” in various cities….[the fantasy] that…children might be molested while trick-or-treating…ha[s] no basis in reality, and these stories—like the warning signs and restrictions imposed by local police prior to Halloween—mainly serve to stigmatize people who have already completed their sentences, along with their spouses and children, who have committed no crimes at all.  That stigma invites harassment, vandalism, and violence…This fall a petition organized by the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) is urging Patch and other outlets to cut it out…the petition asks news organizations to “cease a hurtful publication practice that has no positive effect at all on child protection or public safety”…

Working From Home (#1032)

Another example of sex worker ingenuity:

…In early May, one [of the] dancer[s from the East Hollywood hipster strip club Jumbo’s Clown Room] named Gabrielle reached out to a few of her coworkers to create a virtual strip show…within 24 hours they launched Cyber Clown Girls, which has now become a twice-weekly three-hour show featuring current dancers and alumni from Jumbo’s, and other performers from exotic dance communities…the show has given the strippers a new sense of agency and empowerment in an industry that is notorious for taking advantage of women…The co-founders take turns hosting and performing in the virtual show.  Each follows a theme — “Star Wars,” disco and funk, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — and features a different lineup of dancers who perform two short pieces in their homes.  Some dancers use portable poles, and others make creative use of bathtubs, windowsills, cars or apartment corners transformed by a makeshift set.  Like an in-person strip club, viewers (about 100 for each show) are encouraged throughout the night to tip the dancers using payment platforms like Venmo or Cash App.  The tips are eventually pooled and split evenly among all the performers…

The Widening Gyre (#1046)

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

Mysterious white dots have been popping up on windshields of cars…in Chester County [South Carolina]…Most of the reports and calls say they are finding white dots on their windshields after going into the Walmart…A rumor started on social media saying it was linked to sex traffickers trying to mark your car [sic]…Deputies say there is no evidence linking any type of human trafficking…[people have spread similar silly rumors about] car windshields…in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama…

Quiet Genocide (#1058)

Are Western media finally going to stop tiptoeing around calling this what it is?

…the aim of China’s actions in Xinjiang is clear:  to homogenize Uighurs into the country’s Han Chinese majority, even if that means erasing their cultural and religious identity for good.  What is taking place is a cultural genocide.  The repercussions bear heavily even on Uighurs living outside of the country.  Their burden is more than just raising awareness about what is taking place in their homeland—a task many have taken up at great cost to themselves and their families.  It’s also about preserving and promoting their identity in countries where few people might know who the Uighurs are, let alone what the world stands to lose should their language, food, art, and traditions be eradicated…

Tissue of Lies

A few journalists are beginning to see the danger of “sex trafficking” propaganda:

Trevontae Shareef…didn’t know that his girlfriend of seven months was a runaway from state foster care…until…a dozen [heavily-armed pigs and spooks barged into]…his mother’s house…and…searched [it without permission] until they found the 17-year-old girl hiding under furniture in the garage…They allowed a TV news crew to tag along for the raid and record footage…as [the thugs dragged] Shareef and his mother’s fiancé, Kirk Waters, outside and handcuffed them…Public announcements about the operation, vague on details but full of loaded terms, led to weeks of social media [hysteria] about…a [fantasized] child sex trafficking ring in Georgia…The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined the criminal charges…and found that, by combining a variety of cases, [pigs intentionally and maliciously] fostered a false perception that confused the public and…harmed [innocent] people…

Social Distancing (#1080)

I’m glad prominent physicians are starting to weigh in on this, at long last:

Martin Kulldorff, Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and leading figure in the field of infectious disease epidemiology, argues…[that] lockdowns result in too much collateral damage…and impose unreasonable costs on the working class and the young in particular …”For older people this is much worse than the annual flu.  For children the risks are much less than the annual flu…We don’t close schools because of the annual flu.  We don’t ban people from driving cars because there are people who die in car accidents.  We let people live normal lives with standard precautions…As a scientist I have worked with infectious disease outbreaks for a couple of decades.  Then suddenly in the spring, I was hearing that we should “follow the science” by doing something that I think is contrary to science. That was absolutely stunning to me…among…infectious disease epidemiologists, the majority are in favour of an age-targeted strategy.  A minority are in favour of lockdowns and contact tracing”…

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What we really need are safe and legal ways for sex workers to do what millions of Americans depend on them for.  –  Kate Zen

Under Every Bed 

Population 23,639:

…Guardians of the Children hosted a walk and candlelight vigil to raise awareness about child exploitation…[and] human trafficking…[but because North] Platte [Nebraska has no actual “sex trafficking” the members conflated it with]…child abuse [so they could claim at least a few hundred]…cases…

The Widening Gyre (#786)

When a headline writer doesn’t actually read the article first:

…historians offer a…thesis for the purpose QAnon serves.  The “nocturnal ritual fantasy”—a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europe’s Inner Demons—is a recurring trope in Western history.  And it is often a politically useful one.  Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against “heretics,” it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocents—and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed…

Apparently, New Republic editors are so fixated on the “left-right” fantasy, and the belief that all social evils proceed from “The Right”, that they’re willing to characterize the Romans, the Christians, and the great majority of 1980s and 1990s Americans as “The Right” in order to cram an article into that paradigm.

Guinea Pigs (#955)

Just a reminder that this privacy-destroying abomination started as a means of spying on sex workers:

Palantir…promises t[o]…create clarity and order.  But to deliver, its software needs data — lots of it.  Now, two never-before-seen documents, “Intermediate Course” and “Advanced Course” training manuals, reveal how the Los Angeles Police Department has taught its [thugs] to use Palantir Gotham…At great taxpayer expense, and without public oversight or regulation, Palantir helped the LAPD construct a vast database that indiscriminately lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, friendships, romances, jobs of Angelenos — the guilty, innocent, and those in between.  LAPD’s Palantir database includes information from the DMV…[and] 1 billion pictures taken of license plates from traffic lights and toll booths in Los Angeles and neighboring areas.  If you’ve driven through Los Angeles since 2015, the police can see where your car was photographed, when it was photographed, and then click on your name to learn all about you…

Thou Shalt Not (#971)

Pregnant women are easy targets for crypto-moralists:

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should completely avoid caffeine, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal.  Its findings, though, were quickly picked apart by skeptics who are sick of women being warned that almost everything they do…is a risk to their kids.  “I don’t think we need to worry about coffee,” says Clare Murphy…[of] the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “I think we need to worry about this relentless pursuit of pregnant women and regulating of pregnant women’s choices”…the paper…is…a meta-analysis of several earlier studies…conducted by James E. Jack, a professor of psychology at Reykjavik University whose life’s work seems to be excoriating caffeine…in a culture enamored of shame and blame, especially when it comes to moms, it is this kind of research that gets funding and attention…Murphy says that her country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published guidelines “whereby they want a woman’s entire alcohol history through the entire pregnancy—from a glass of beer they had before they knew they were pregnant—to be all documented and transferred onto a child’s health record.”  The clear implication is that anything a mom does can and will be held against her if a child exhibits problems…

The Implosion Begins

Cops will embrace any belief, no matter how bizarre, which gives them more power:

…what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views?  What if…he…was watching videos…[claim]ing that a satanic cabal of high-profile…pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring?  Or was swiping through memes popularizing …[fantasies] about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive?  And what if they sincerely believed it all?  In a small but growing number of places across the country…[cops] have endorsed QAnon, [just as they endosed “sex trafficking” hysteria from which it sprang]…

Working From Home (#1070)

We’re way past the watershed when a prominent sex worker activist gets a network news byline:

Sex workers are the majority of creators on [OnlyFans], and here was a celebrity coming in and making more in a day than they could in a year.  Many sex workers rely on [the site] as their sole source of income during the pandemic, as in-person encounters became unsafe.  But what especially angered workers was how [former Disney star Bella] Thorne caused a wave of chargebacks that “broke OnlyFans”…[by] promising a $200 pay-per-message nude photo that she then shied away from sending…Shortly thereafter, OnlyFans…limit[ed] max subscription and tip payments and extend[ed] payout time by 23 days in 14 countries where fraud risk is deemed highest…To rub salt in the wound, Thorne’s sister Kaili responded to the controversy by seeming to dismiss and shame sex worker concerns…while the scandal has mostly died down, the problems it revealed remain worthy of our attention, especially as we head into fall and winter without a clear end to the…pandemic in sight…

Tissue of Lies

As I predicted almost 9 years ago, these debunkings are becoming common:

…The myths spread about human trafficking are endless.  Every year viral headlines claim the Super Bowl (and other major sporting events) are hotbeds for human trafficking.  This has been debunked for years.  The vast majority of sex workers get into the industry through friends or social activities, not through coercion of pimps.  There are ads to fight human trafficking in airports all over the country, despite there never being a confirmed case in one (but many cases of interracial families are reported)…These myths will continue feeding conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon until there’s a cultural effort to share the truth.  Human trafficking has been marketed as a national problem for decades and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars both publicly and privately, yet still has no credible studies showing the numbers of victims, no proof there’s a nation-wide crisis, and scarce evidence that current solutions help the underlying problems at all…

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The law punishes sex workers…and…turns us into criminals.  –  Mai Junta

The Immunity Syndrome (#318)

Don’t try to imagine this in the US; you’ll overload your brain:

On a stage…in Copenhagen stood five adults in bathrobes…Facing [an audience of] children…they stood completely naked, like statues, with their hands and arms folded behind their backs.  And so began a recording of the latest episode of an award-winning Danish children’s program, Ultra Strips Down, which is shown on…the…children’s channel…the program is meant as an educational tool to fight body shaming and encourage body positivity…The program is now in its second season, and…is highly popular in Denmark…[except for the usual puritan minority.  Most] Danes believe children should not be shielded from the realities of life…

Dysphemisms Galore 

When the topic is sex, Philippine reporters seem even less able than most to write In normal adult sane-person language:

With nightclubs closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus…there has been a dearth of customers for commercial sex workers, according to [Iloilo City’s] Task Force on Morals and Values Formation.  Suffering a heavy economic beating from the pandemic, this city’s prostituted women and men…have left, said task force chief Nestor Canong…Workers in the flesh trade were suddenly faced an awful choice between livelihood and health…[blah blah] sex workers…spread…[disease]…

What kind of mind thinks a busybody brigade called “Task Force on Morals and Values” would have anything worthwhile to say about people whose lives are so alien to them they need to make up silly fantasies about them?

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#1017)

Thai sex worker activists are made of awesome:

Sex workers in Thailand have launched a petition calling for prostitution to be decriminalised and urging authorities to remove all penalties for selling sex.  Empower Foundation…said it hoped to collect 10,000 signatures and present the petition to parliament…More than 1,000 people had signed the petition [in its first three days]…activists say the current law, which made prostitution illegal in 1960, [harms]…sex workers…w[ith] repeated arrests and fines [that]…drive…them further into poverty.  The women’s affairs department at Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security said it was in the process of amending the prostitution law and would launch an online public hearing next year, without giving further details…

Disqualified

A report by Hacking/Hustling on shadowbans and similar policies:

Content moderation, censorship, and shadowbanning facilitate sex worker erasure and normalize the digital and physical oppression of sex working and [activist] communities.  Sex workers are disproportionately losing access to social media platforms, having bank accounts seized, being banned from major payment processors, and being used as test subjects for facial recognition databases…This research shows how communities are negatively impacted by content moderation practices, and how surveillance technologies disrupt their ability to both earn an income and organize…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1063)

Trumpists are completely taking control of the “sex trafficking” narrative:

…the federal government is awarding more than $100 million in grants to target [migrants and sex workers for increased persecution using the same old excuse of] human trafficking.  The money will [mostly] go to [vice cops]…and…[prisons.  Attorney General William] Barr made the announcement…with pr[ohibitionist] Ivanka Trump and [infantilized sex workers as] “boys and girls”…

Loose Cannons (#1068)

Of course, the non-wealthy victims of this illegal surveillance still had their lives ruined:

After nearly two years, Florida prosecutors are finally giving up on prosecuting…Robert Kraft for [consensual sex]…Florida cops had pretended to be hunting a “human trafficking” ring in order to get a warrant for the secret surveillance cameras…authorities went forward with the “trafficking” lie…and…a…local sheriff called the [arrest of adult women]…”a rescue operation”…now, those “rescued” women may be the only ones still in legal trouble…Hua Zhang, the 59-year-old owner of Orchids of Asia…41-year-old Lei Wang…and…60-year-old Shen Mingbi…[are still] charged with…[various] prostitution[-rated “crimes”]…Zhang and Wang [were] also [robbed by cops using “asset forfeiture” laws]…

Tissue of Lies

Looks like Michael Hobbes has joined the debunkers’ club:

The biggest problem, I’ve found, is the definition of “child sex trafficking” itself. Under the law, anyone under 18 who trades sex for money, drugs, a place to stay or anything else of value is a victim of trafficking.  They don’t have to be recruited by a pimp, moved across state lines or forced into prostitution.  A homeless runaway having sex with some sleazeball in exchange for a warm bed is a tragedy, but it’s a less salacious one than the Taken myths that trafficking memes circulating on social media imply…The internet is awash in exaggerated, misleading and downright fabricated numbers about how many children are forced into the sex trade every year.  This is my attempt to debunk all the false trafficking numbers…

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The censor-morons are loose, and they’re attacking the small targets so their totalitarian masters can expend their energy on big ones like the internet.  –  “The Return of the Censor

Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.  From the most totalitarian of governments down to the youngest of adults, it seems everybody without a functional moral compass (which is to say, the great majority) wants to impose their ideas of “right” thinking and “correct” speech on everyone else.  China, of course, is leading the way, with a new Maoist-type campaign to purge schools and libraries of books deemed insufficiently pure, but the West isn’t far behind.  In the UK, cops are knocking on doors to intimidate people who made statements online that the cops didn’t like, and early this month a woman in Melbourne was actually arrested for posting on Facebook about a protest against totalitarian “lockdown” orders imposed by the Victorian government.  In the US, the pandemic is only one of many popular excuses for censorship; others include “hate speech”, criticizing the police, and (for social media platforms) either engaging in censorship on their own or not censoring often enough for the tastes of censors.  I know that last is confusing, so let me state it a different way:  Some politicians and other control freaks want to censor Facebook, Twitter, et al for engaging in censorship themselves, while others want to censor the same entities for not censoring enough.  Yes, it’s complete lunacy, and it isn’t limited to the internet; culture warriors in academia, Hollywood, and even corporate America are firing,expelling, or otherwise ostracizing people for engaging in wrongthink, or even for failing to chant approved party slogans with sufficient enthusiasm.

When I was a librarian, Banned Books Week was little more than an academic exercise; censorship was an intermittent and generally impotent threat proceeding from small numbers of narrow-minded busybodies, which was easily defeated by librarians and other guardians of our shared cultural heritage.  But that was a generation ago, and would-be censors have become numerous, aggressive, well-organized and (most concerningly) popular.  Few of those under 30 even understand what free speech is or why it’s important, and the majority or those over that age imagine all sorts of exceptions that they believe should be reasons to violently suppress speech, ranging from “it hurt my feelings”, to “it was said or written by a dead person who did things considered normal then, but which are now mortal sins”, to “it contains ‘bad’ words”, to the ever-popular “But SEX!”  As I wrote last year, the censor-morons (a term coined by D.H. Lawrence, one of many writers now considered “problematic”) are loose; furthermore, they are multiplying like bacteria and have already infested all the centers of power.  For now, the courts are mostly still defending the rights of those with enough money, resources, and patience to fight “cancellation” through official channels.  But if you will take the time to read all of my essays for this occasion starting in 2012, and working your way up a year at a time to the present, I think you’ll see a very frightening trend.  We are watching the advent of a new dark age, and in such times no light is entirely safe from being snuffed out by zealots, speech-cops and bureaucrats whose ideal model for human society is the anthill.

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