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Posts Tagged ‘language’

The blast blasted blubber beyond all reasonable bounds.  –  Paul Linnman

Since last week was the 50th anniversary of the infamous Exploding Whale of Oregon, Mike Siegel felt this video should be posted to commemorate it.  He also provided “restoration” below, and the other links are from Walter Olson, Cop Crisis, Scott Greenfield, Amy Alkon, and Boatfloating, in that order.

From the Archives

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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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James Randi, AKA, “The Amazing Randi”, died last week at the age of 92.  If you don’t know who he was, watch this short video for an introduction; there’s also a full-length documentary on his life’s work, An Honest Liar.  The links above the video were provided by Mistress Matisse, Nun Ya, Franklin Harris, Radley Balko, Cop Crisis, Walter Olson, and Mike Siegel, in that order.

From the Archives

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McCain and her ilk…never let facts get in the way of a good moral panic.  –  Julianna Piccillo

So Close and Yet So Far

Yes, sex workers are more likely to experience violence and coercion under Swedish criminalization than under most legalization regimes, including the British model which was used in Northern Ireland until the Swedish model was imposed there.  However, these sex workers are still adults and still capable of adult decision-making; they are not “children”, “victims”, “slaves” or whatever other fashionable dysphemim one cares to apply to them without their consent.  So if you’re a reporter who thinks you’re “helping” sex workers by calling attention to this increased violence, yet insist on calling their work “modern slavery”, I suggest you find something different to write about.

Honored in the Breach

A reminder that you shouldn’t let anyone shame you for refusing to vote:

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#911) 

Remember, this isn’t “human trafficking”, but consensual sex is:

Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children, and that approximately two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children…Unlike the 2,800 families separated under [Trump’s] zero tolerance [policy] in 2018, most of whom remained in c[ages] when zero tolerance was ended…many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the [2017] pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered they be found…

The Implosion Begins

The schadenfreude is so sweet, it almost hurts my teeth:

The Arizona…Republic‘s scribes outdid themselves recently in a piece comparing [“Cuckoo Clock” McCain]’s many years of peddling the moral panic of sex trafficking, to the…[fantasy] known as QAnon, which posits that a worldwide ring of Democratic elites sells minors for sex while feasting on the flesh of infants and undermining the presidency of Donald J. Trump.  Due to the rise of QAnon…anti-trafficking [profiteers] worry…there will be less [money to] support…the [rescue industry]…In other words, it’s a turf war, with all these unwashed newbies attempting to usurp the anti-trafficking throne currently inhabited by the widow of the late warmonger, Senator John McCain…the McCain Institute issued a statement condemning QAnon, while Cindy McCain took QAnon to task on Twitter for its “lies”…Talk about projection.  Aided and abetted, time and again, by mainstream news outlets, Cindy McCain has spread dangerous misinformation and myths about sex trafficking, citing debunked statistics, prevaricating about her own experiences, and falling back on racist tropes — all in a narcissistic bid to maintain her media profile…

Torture Chamber (#1066)

“Detention center” is just another euphemism for “prison”, and that means rape:

…since 2017, at least 265 calls…have reported violence and abuse inside California’s four…federal detention centers…Half [reported] sex crimes, including rape, sexual assault and abuse against detainees.  The rest were to report assault, battery and other threats of violence against [prisoners, mostly by] staff.  In only three cases…[was] a suspect…charged…and…[only] one…is pending.  [Since] prosecutors [a]re…[un]likely to pursue cases…what [has] emerged is…a system in which violence can be perpetuated against [prisoners] with impunity, [especially] by…[screws.  Prisoners a]re banned from calling 911…and forced to rely on [screws] to report a[ttacks by other screws]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1066)

Turning the police state’s own weapons against it:

…[because cops sent to suppress protests] are…tap[ing] over their name[s]…individuals…are…researching how to build a facial recognition product that could defeat [cop]s’ attempts to [hide] their identity…The authorities targeted so far have not been pleased.  The New York Times reported in July 2019 that Colin Cheung, a protester in Hong Kong, had developed a tool to identify [cops] using online photos of them.  After he posted a video about the project on Facebook, he was arrested…This month, the artist Paolo Cirio published photos of 4,000 faces of French [cops] online for an exhibit called “Capture,” which he described as the first step in developing a facial recognition app.  He…[was forced to take] the photos down after France’s interior minister threatened legal action but said he hoped to republish them…Last month, Andrew Maximov…uploaded a video to YouTube that demonstrated how facial recognition technology could be used to digitally strip away [cops’] masks….[but] it’s unclear if the matches are accurate…

I’m skeptical this will work if the cops wear balaclavas, as they so often do.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1071)

At least a few reporters seem to be beginning to get it:

…While Traffickinghub presents itself as “a non-religious, non-partisan effort,” the organizing force behind it is neither…the organization running the…campaign…is Exodus Cry, a far-right Evangelical group “prayed” into existence in a Missouri church, with the goal of abolishing the commercial sex industry entirely.  When Exodus Cry first emerged in 2007, it was little more than a weekly prayer group hosted by a man named Benjamin Nolot at the charismatic Christian enclave known, incredibly, as the International House of Prayer, or IHOP…In recent years, the group has transitioned into a new form of advocacy: making [fak]umentaries.  Their cinematic work has yielded Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution…about the [supposed] dangers of youth hook-up culture; [and] Seattle Bikini Baristas, about how “behind the intrigue of lingerie and java lurks a darker side”…IHOP (which was actually sued by the pancake chain in 2010 for trademark infringement; the case was later dropped)…[also stoked] the homophobia that led to Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality ActIHOP later rejected the association, but the church’s founder, Mike Bickle, has…claimed that…the “gay marriage agenda” is “rooted in the depths of Hell,” that Adolf Hitler was a “hunter” sent by God to punish the Jews, and that Oprah Winfrey is a footservant to the Antichrist

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Pleasure can never be free.  –  Moroccan saying

Surplus Women

Your regular reminder: this isn’t confined to the US:

On 9 April, sex worker and activist Robyn Montsumi was arrested on a drug charge…in Cape Town.  A few days later she died in [what cops claim was]…suicide by hanging…artist Clinton Osbourn…created a life-size portrait of Montsumi…laminated it and put it up on a pole near the Mowbray police station…

Osbourn is hopelessly naive if he thinks cops will be “haunted” by a portrait of one of their victims; if they had consciences, they wouldn’t commit the crimes they regularly revel in committing.

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Police closed off the Longport area of Canterbury for several hours…following a report of…a woman [o]n the property…armed [thugs] were s[ent in while]…a police helicopter hover[ed] overhead…a woman in her 50s [w]as [th]en arrested on suspicion of immigration offences…[cops claim] the address may have been used as a brothel…

Smoke and Mirrors

Another of those cases whose reported details don’t add up:

Raymond Rodio III…was [sentenced to 9.5 years for]…charges including sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.  After he completes his prison sentence, Rodio must register as a sex offender…“sex dungeon…sex slavery,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini [drooled, claiming that]…Rodio recruited women through social media, got them hooked on heroin or crack cocaine and forced them to have sex with men in the basement…Rodio operated the ring for about four years, victimized more than 20 women and forced some to use a bucket instead of a toilet…Rodio’s parents may have known “something untoward” was going on, but not necessarily that their son was running a prostitution ring…They were not charged with a crime…

A “ring” with only one member?  Were the 20 “victims” in one basement, or did he only have one “slave” at a time (and if they could quit, how were they “slaves”?)  And the parents somehow had no idea?  Reeeeeeeeeeally now.

Lower Education (#778)

California seems determined to completely eliminate due process in rape cases:

[California] Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed…[a law] to ensure California colleges and universities [deny due]…process [to] all students [accused of] sexual assault…in direct response to the Trump administrations’ attempts [to roll back the due-process-banning “guidelines” set forth in the infamous “Dear Collague” letter of 2011]…SB 493 will require state-funded colleges and universities to [refuse the protections enshrined in] common [law for centuries, despite the fact that minority students are disproportionately the subjects of rape allegations which lack the evidence to be supported in actual court]…On May 6…Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released new federal Title IX regulations that require schools to allow direct cross-examination of [accusers as in any other US criminal case], and would…raise the standard of evidence [back] from…preponderance of the evidence…to “clear and convincing” evidence, which is [still much lower than the burden of proof in other criminal cases.  Many]…lawsuits have already been filed challenging [expulsions and other punishments obtained under] the [Obama-era] Title IX regulations, including [75 in California alone and] a [class-action] lawsuit [against Michigan State University]

Naked Truth (#956)

Despite attempts to infantilize them as “victims”, Moroccan women know better:

…one of th[e] things that girls learn in Moroccan society…is [to]…enforce [a cost] when establishing almost any love and/or sexual bond with boys, and something that…married and divorced women tend to hold…[arranged] marriages…coexist…with the criminalization of [any] sexual relations outside of marriage…Consequently, there is a market for intimacy in which enjoyment is negotiated…the French-Moroccan anthropologist Mériam Cheikh has dedicated a doctoral thesis…[to] “the girls who go out”…the elegant euphemism [used] to designate prostitution practices, both professional and [casual]…the audacity in Cheikh’s research…is to…conclude that, in reality, the negotiations of sexuality are nothing more than a scale in the continuum of the bond between men and women that also includes marriage

Social Distancing (#1035)

Some of us have been saying this since March:

On 23 March, Boris Johnson locked down the [UK]…It would last for three weeks, he said, and it had one simple aim: to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by Covid cases.  Six months on…A quarter of the population is still under lockdown.  The rest of us are living under the most stringent social rules in living memory…Riot police are violently shutting down anyone who protests against this new authoritarianism…And…we are heading for the largest recession on record, with millions of jobs on the line…arbitrary rules are introduced by government decree…people can be fined for visiting loved ones…ministers make statements about who we can hug…there is serious talk of Christmas being cancelled…why did we shift from temporarily protecting the NHS from a spike in Covid to protecting all people from ever catching the virus?…how come you can gather in groups larger than six at work but not in a pub?…those of us…who have taken a critical approach…are often caricatured as not taking Covid-19 seriously…but…one of the key problems with a society-wide lockdown was precisely that it distracted society’s focus from the more targeted policies required to protect…the elderly and the vulnerable…It increasingly seems that the…freezing of economic life, the tight control of social life, and the halting of certain health services…could prove more harmful than the disease itself…

Social Distancing (#1045)

Like its neighbor the Netherlands, Belgium only pretends to respect sex workers:

Brussels’ sex workers are angry that they were not consulted before the City…sprung a prostitution ban on them on [September 28th, using the excuse]…of the coronavirus…the ban not only concerns street prostitution…but also sex work in…rendez-vous hotels…Maxime Maes of sex worker union UTSOPI [said]…“The virus is just an excuse.  This is not about the coronavirus, but about longstanding issues with the people living in those districts”…referring to how neighbourhood committees have repeatedly attempted to have several hotels in the Alhambra district closed…

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There is no provision under [Indian] law which makes prostitution per se a criminal offence.  –  Justice Prithviraj Chavan

Elephant in the Parlor

Americans keep pretending “politician hires whores” is something other than a yawn:

Hunter Biden allegedly sent “thousands of dollars” to people who appear to be involved in the sex industry, according to…a…report released by Senate Republicans.  The report claims unspecified records show that Biden “has [paid] non-resident alien women in the United States who are citizens of Russia and Ukraine…some of these transactions are linked to what ‘appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring’”…Last year…[it was] revealed that a woman who was suing Biden for paternity in Arkansas was a former stripper at a Washington, DC, club that he frequented…

The attempt to make this VEWWY IMPOWTINT by alluding to “sex trafficking” and RUSSIA!!!! just come across as pathetic.  As for the phrase “prostitution or human trafficking ring”, that “or” is doing some mighty heavy lifting; the phrase “Biden is either a human being or a tentacled monster from Tau Ceti” would be equally accurate.

Panopticon (#1001)

The “security” system that isn’t:

…the Ring Always Home Cam, set to be available sometime next year…is…a drone that flies autonomously throughout your home, to provide [anyone with access to your Ring account] the view [they] want of whatever room [they] want, without having to have video cameras installed in multiple locations throughout your house.  The Always Home Cam…can be scheduled to fly preset paths…and it begins recording only once its in flight (the camera lens is actually physically blocked while it’s docked) — both features the company [pretends] will help ensure it operates strictly with privacy in mind.  Always Home Cam is also designed intentionally to produce an audible hum while in use, to alert anyone present that it’s actually moving around and recording [unless it’s used when no human is home]…

Sure, give hackers and cops access to a device that can be activated when you aren’t home to fly around and snoop into your private business.  What could possibly go wrong?

Social Distancing (#1031)

Can you imagine this happening in the puritanical US?

A woman running a[n escort service]…sued the Japanese government [for]…its blanket exclusion of the sex industry from a cash handout programme to support small companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic[, which constitutes] discrimination banned under the country’s constitution…the woman…demanded the payment of the benefits as well as consolation money for having been discriminated against “without reasonable grounds”…When she and other sex business operators met with an official at the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency in June to ask for their companies to be included in the handout programme, the official rejected their request, saying such businesses “have previously been excluded from public support, such as ones following natural disasters”, and that the agency merely “followed the past responses” made by the state…

Against Their Will (#1056) 

The Indian high court’s ruling in action:

Observing that prostitution is no offence under the law, the Bombay high court…set free three sex workers, who were detained [against their will] at a [so-called] hostel in Uttar Pradesh.  The court said an adult woman has the right to choose her vocation and cannot be detained without her consent, and set young women, aged 20, 22 and 23 free.  Justice Prithviraj Chavan said the purpose and the object of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (PITA), 1956 is not to abolish prostitution…

The Last Shall Be First (#1059)

Politicians’ potty obsession has gone federal:

[Politician] Kelly Loeffler [has] introduced a bill…threatening federal funding to schools that support transgender students…The bill…explicitly state[s] that allowing transgender girls…to compete with [cis]gender [girls] in school sports violates Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex in schools…Loeffler’s bill, which says nothing about transgender boys competing in boys’…sports, says that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth”…Similar legislation passed in Idaho earlier this year, and it was criticized because it allowed anyone to challenge a student athlete’s gender, which would force [her] to undergo DNA tests and “genital exams”…With the bill’s wording vague and federal funding on the line, schools could opt to require genital exams for all female athletes to prove they aren’t transgender…

The Widening Gyre (#1074)

It’s good to see psychologists finally telling the truth about hysteria over “pedophilia”:

Around two years ago…Twitter amended its terms of service to make an explicit allowance for the discussion of sexual attractions towards children, provided that such discussion does not…encourage people to commit sexual offenses against children…I was a signatory of a letter, initiated by the child protection organization Prostasia Foundation, alongside other experts on the prevention of child sexual abuse…who called for such a change…as the current best thinking in the field is that having a place online to connect to other MAPs reduces…social isolation, and therefore reduces the temptation to use the internet to act out on such sexual attractions…The phrase “minor-attracted person” (or “MAP”)…[is intended to cover the full] range of attraction targets…[rather than labeling everything] “pedophilia” [a term which actually only refers to attraction to prepubescent children]…

The Widening Gyre (#1075)

Here’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown on the Blocked and Reported podcast, discussing “the online outrage surrounding the French film Cuties…[and] the broader American sex-trafficking panic that seems to partly explain the reaction…

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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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I’m always happy when journalists investigate the wild fantasies promoted by politicians, cops, and “rescue” profiteers via the mainstream media.  First of all, they have much better investigational tools and resources than I do, plus paid time to do the job; second, they have a far larger platform, and can thus inform many more people of the truth even if their coverage of the topic trails mine by years; and third, given the central role played by the news media in disseminating the lies and propagating the hysteria, it is the moral responsibility of ethical journalists to at least attempt to counteract the massive damage done by their unethical, incompetent and lazy brethren.  So I was very pleased indeed to see Michael Hobbes (whom I’ve corresponded with before) publish in Huffington Post (which for a while was as happy as any other site to spread anti-sex tall tales) a thorough debunking of that “brave hero cops rescue dozens of ‘sex trafficked children’ in Georgia” masturbatory fantasy from a couple of weeks ago.  So much information is intentionally omitted from the “official” press releases in such stories that I’m often forced to surmise the real meaning of semantically-opaque terms like “rescued”; I’m gratified to see that the details Hobbes uncovered are close to my educated guesses:

…“U.S. Marshals Find 39 Missing Children in Georgia”…proclaimed the government’s official press release.  Federal agents and local law enforcement, it said, had rescued 26 children, “safely located” 13 more and arrested nine perpetrators, some of whom were charged with sex trafficking.  The facts of the operation weren’t clear (what does “safely located” mean, exactly?), but it didn’t stop media outlets from taking up the story…the vast majority…were little more than rewritten versions of the U.S. Marshals Service’s press release.  Within hours, social media users continued the game of telephone. “39 kids were just recovered from traffickers in Georgia,” Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA, wrote in a tweet…More than 150,000 people shared a single-sentence tweet from someone named King Randall, I: “How is finding 39 missing children in a double wide trailer here in Georgia NOT the biggest news story in America?”  Well, to answer a one-sentence question with a one-sentence answer, 39 kids being rescued from a trailer in Georgia is not the biggest news story in America because 39 kids were not rescued from a trailer in Georgia… 

…“This was not a designated anti-trafficking operation,” [said] Darby Kirby, a U.S. Marshals Service inspector…the…effort…was a collaboration between state and federal authorities to locate 78 “critically missing” children…they…found all but 13…39 were “recovered,” meaning they were removed from whatever situation they were in — which could be anything from living on the streets to crashing on a friend’s couch to staying with a parent who didn’t have custody rights.  The other 26 cases were closed without the child being “recovered”…[which] could [either] mean that another agency…found them — or that they had been home all along…authorities said they suspected [emphasis Maggie’s] that 15…were [so-called] victims of trafficking (meaning [only that] they were engaging in commercial sex) but confirmed only six cases…The operation netted only one new charge of sex trafficking…Of the seven men and two women arrested, three were charged with probation violations, one was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and two were accused of violating custody arrangements.  One…was arrested on a warrant for a previous sex trafficking charge, and two more were arrested on warrants for sex crimes in other states…agents did not rescue a large number of children from a single location — or even a single jurisdiction…only two…were recovered together.  The other kids were found individually across 15 Georgia counties and six other states:  South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.  The operation took place over two weeks, not one night…the agency did not conduct any raids…

…It’s also worth noting that the operation was also set up to arrest [legal minors], not just rescue [children]…two…were [arested as] suspects in homicide cases, and one was a person of interest in another…11…had…“some kind of gang affiliation”…seven warrants [in all] were issued for underage offenders…54 of the 78…had been in foster care before they went missing…most…were…runaways…

There’s a lot more, but I think you get the picture.  Between some reporters waking up, some outlets at last letting skeptical journalists publish stories like this, and some (like the New York Times) being forced to recant their own propaganda for fear of being associated with QAnon, I think it’s safe to say we’ve at last entered the period of skeptical journalism that always precedes the collapse of a moral panic.

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When “decriminalisation” was formulated we were smoking indoors.  –  Cheryl Overs

Think of the Children! (Updates Galore)

In some parts of the Anglosphere, male teachers who do sex work can manage to keep their jobs:

…Gordon Parsons will still be allowed to teach at Queensland’s Ipswich State High despite allegedly making graphic sexual videos with his porn star girlfriend…Luci Power…Parsons was moved from Corinda State High last year after the Education Department discovered his extra-curricular activities…[and] now teaches under the name of James Parsons after allegedly agreeing to remove any sexual content he was involved in.  But…he…was reportedly spotted [by a deeply hypocritical parent while] at[tending] the Brisbane Sexpo with [his porn star girlfriend. Luci Power]…who was [making a paid appearance] at the exhibition…the [shockingly two-faced slimeball] wrote…a [poison pen] letter…to the school [to try to get Parsons fired despite the fact that he was at the same event]…

Apparently, hypocrisy rays are far less dangerous than sex rays.

So Close and Yet So Far

This could’ve been a decent article about why Filipino sex workers are afraid of cops and refuse to participate in their witch hunts and morality plays.  But instead the reporter insists on smearing them with the agency-denying prohibitionist slur “protituted women”; uncritically labels a prison with the authoritarian euphemism “safe house”; claims prohibitionists really want to help sex workers; and even used the insulting phrase “so-called ‘clients'”.  Not worth wasting your time on.

The Widening Gyre (#697) 

The NY Times is still pretending “Pizzagate” is about cranks, when actually it was a natural & predictable outgrowth of the “sex trafficking” hysteria they’ve aggressively promoted for two decades:

Four minutes into a video that was posted on Instagram last month, Justin Bieber leaned into the camera and adjusted the front of his black knit beanie…someone had posted a comment asking Mr. Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate…there [i]s no evidence…Bieber [saw] that message.  But…[fetishists] quickly uploaded hundreds of videos online analyzing…Bieber’s [casual] action.  The videos were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, amassing millions of views.  Fans then left thousands of comments on…Bieber’s social media posts asking him if he was safe.  Within days…the hashtag #savebieber started trending.  Four years ago…the [fantasy] that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizzeria spread across the internet, illustrating [the damage done by the] crackpot idea [called “sex trafficking”] with no truth to it [which was irresponsibly spread by mainstream] media — and how dangerous it could be…Facebook, Twitter and YouTube managed to largely [censor] PizzaGate.  But now, just months before the next presidential election, the conspiracy theory is making a comeback on these platforms — and on new ones such as [the Chinese-developed] TikTok — underlining the limits of their efforts to [censor] speech online…PizzaGate no longer focuses on…Clinton…its new targets…includ[e]…Bieber, Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and Chrissy Teigen…

I Swear To God (#712)

US courts are happy to allow US censorship of non-Americans:

Foreign groups that receive American funding to fight HIV and AIDS must still pledge to oppose sex work…[even though] a similar requirement for U.S. nonprofits was struck down as unconstitutional in 2013…U.S. groups whose international affiliates must still abide by the rule sought to have it overturned, too, arguing that compelling anti-prostitution speech from these foreign affiliates was attributed to the American groups and therefore violated their First Amendment rights.  But in a 5-3 decision, the Court [said]…”plaintiffs…[get what’s coming to them for] affiliating] with [dirty] foreign[ers]”…

To Molest and Rape (#835)

Imagine how many others like him are still free:

Four decades after he started sneaking into homes, tying up victims, raping women and murdering couples, [typical and representative cop] Joseph DeAngelo pleaded guilty…to 26 charges, admitting…he was the sadistic Golden State Killer…He only stopped…when he got old and was no longer spry enough to overpower victims…he was responsible for more than 60 rapes…in…[all], but the statute of limitations expired on those crimes…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#995) 

Cheryl Overs on the erosion of the line between legalization and decriminalization in Australia:

…the Australian state of Victoria…is about decriminalise sex work after thirty years of disastrous legalisation…so I…[tried] to identify exactly which “ordinary business regulations” should apply to a decriminalised sex industry here.  Big mistake…In 2020 the regulatory framework of a wealthy country like Australia requires every business and service provider to apply for a dizzying number of permits and permissions; to pay various fees and taxes; to register their names in various places and to comply with a web of regulations including allowing access to authorities to inspect and enforce those regulations.  No one gets out this.  Some combination of these rules apply whether you are a large engineering plant or a self employed hairdresser working from home…most require the legal name of a “natural person”…When “decriminalisation” was formulated…we could walk into banks and open an account in whatever name we wanted…There were always regulations and records and cross checking of course, but analogue data collection and retention was expensive and limited…So I’m quite thrown by discovering that history has narrowed the gap between “legalisation” and “decriminalisation” in this way.  As Maggie McNeill says, “what we’re seeing here is less a sex-work-specific issue and more just government’s ever-expanding intrusion into all people’s lives and private affairs.  But that’s cold comfort to those who are targeted first as tyrants expand their reach”…

Quiet Genocide (#1002)

There are still some in the West who insist China isn’t trying to exterminate the Uighurs:

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities…even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children…an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with…ex-detainees…[demonstrate that China] is [carrying out] what some experts are calling…“demographic genocide”.  The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands…The…measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.  Having too many children is a major [excuse Beijing uses] to [condemn people to concentration] camps…with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.  Police raid homes…[to] search for hidden children…

Loose Cannons (#1005)

Apparently, Florida prosecutors don’t know when to stop digging:

Judges from the 4th District Court of Appeal heard arguments…on whether they should allow [illegal] surveillance video captured by [masturbating pigs]…to be…the evidence in the prostitution case against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others.  The controversial “sneak and peek” warrants [were illegally used by] Jupiter police to install hidden cameras that recorded all activities at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa…similar warrants and tactics were also used at spas in Martin and Indian River counties…[after cops lied, spouting] human trafficking [sex fantasies to judges]…there [was of course] no…human trafficking…[several] judge[s]…suppressed the videos…[but the state] argued…that the videos should be allowed…because [sex]…

Social Distancing (#1034)

A “No shit, Sherlock” headline from the ever-confused Vice:

In Spain, sex work employs an estimated 100,000 women and…like many other countries…legalis[ation includes a host of ridiculous laws which essentially treat sex orkers as tolrated criminals who must]…pay taxes, but aren’t recognised as employees.  When the country went into lockdown in March, sex work was not considered an essential service, and [was] therefore banned…after initially leaving sex workers completely in the lurch, on the 21st of April the Spanish government announced emergency measures [pre]tended to help [the minuscule number of] women forced into sex work…To qualify, workers had to [pretend] they were victims of exploitation by [lying to] social services, or [have an arrest record]…It’s a policy that excludes [the great majority of sex workers]…

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Police killing is not the work of vigilant warriors defending society…and sometimes going too far: it is the…petty tyranny of a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic lobby group.  –  Lyman Stone

The Proper Study (#652)

Another study proves what sex workers have been saying all along:

In a new study just published in The Journal of Sex Research…men…said paid sex offered them a space where they could overcome their insecurities and low self-esteem and sidestep their awkwardness in approaching women…paid sex allowed for a shared understanding of what was (and was not) going to follow sex.  Both the man paying for sex and the sex worker understood the nature of the transaction…with a sex worker, men said they did not worry about being sexually inexperienced…Some men indicated that through paid sex they actually could learn new sexual skills that they might use with other women in other circumstances…Paid sex was also described as giving some men a non-threatening context where they felt safe to engage in sex despite their sexual concerns, including the fear of being unable to have an erection…The findings further expand [academic] ideas of what it is that men are really buying when they pay for sex and suggests [amateurs]…underestimate the amount of emotional labor that goes into sex work…

I Spy (#958)

A politician claims that spying isn’t actually spying:

A secretive unit of the Maine State Police…gather[s] information about groups and organizations even when they are not suspected of crimes, including people who are participating in protests…Michael Sauschuck, the [chief pig] commissioner of…Maine…testified at a…legislative hearing about…a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by a state trooper…[who] was retaliated against after reporting that the intelligence unit illegally used surveillance tools to monitor innocent citizens…Sauschuck refused to directly respond to the allegations in the lawsuit…but…acknowledged under questioning that the center does [spy] on citizens, including groups that organize public protests…[yet still claimed]  “We’re not spying on people”…the Maine State Police might be using powerful new technologies to scan your face and intercept your cellphone signals, and don’t have to tell the public because of an unusual provision in state law…the center…also…participated in the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which involves [ratting out people they spy on]…to federal agencies [based on flimsy suspicions and]…racial profiling…

The Missing Word (#981)

If only there were a concise word for smuggling humans to sell them:

…Paul Petersen plead guilty to the offense of Conspiracy to Smuggle Illegal Aliens for Commercial Advantage and Private Financial Gain…Petersen…orchestrated the travel of several pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Western District of Arkansas…to arrange adoption of their children by families living in the United States…[even though that’s illegal under a] 1983 [compact between] the United States…and…the…RMI…

The Monsters Are Due (#1040)

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

After a chaotic saga unfolded…centering around two missing teenage girls and a [Milwaukee house fantasized to be] a sex trafficking hub…police said…there is no indication the girls were ever there — or that the house was used for such activity.  The girls, ages 13 and 15, were found by one of their mothers more than three miles away…[but before that] three people [were] shot — including two 14-year-olds — plus…a house [was] set on fire twice and an unknown number of [people were] hurt by the tear gas and rubber bullets police fired into a scattered crowd…

Whimsical Notions (#1051)

Since the “trafficked slaves” myth isn’t getting results any more, the government is now claiming sex workers are actually spies:

Trafficked women in Bahrain, some working as prostitutes, are seeking to collect sensitive intelligence from U.S. sailors that they can later sell, according to [NCIS spook]…Joe Minucci…in [an indoctrination video]…“they sell that information, and that’s how they make more money in order to get themselves out of the [lucrative job] they’re in,” he said…

Bread and Circuses (#1051)

FOSTA just keeps splashing egg all over the feds’ stupid, violent faces:

For years leading up to the passage of FOSTA, we were told that Congress had to pass the law…because so many women were “at risk” due to trafficking….[on] Backpage…of course, the actual stats that were provided turned out to be fake and Backpage was seized before the law was even passed.  The charges against the founders did not include sex trafficking charges…with all of the moral panic around the need to pass FOSTA,…the DOJ had not used the law a single time to go after any “sex trafficking” site.  Instead, as we predicted, the law was being used in nuisance lawsuits…Finally…the DOJ made use of FOSTA in shutting down a website and arresting its operator…the DOJ conveniently mashes together sex work and sex trafficking, because that’s the kind of thing law enforcement likes to do…[so] plenty of…sex workers, who previously had relied on Backpage to remain safe and now relied on Martono’s sites, are again put in danger.  The Hacking/Hustling collective…put out a press release calling out what a stupid, counterproductive move this is…

The Cop Myth (#1052)

Even political conservatives are beginning to recognize the danger of police violence:

[Cops murder] about 1,700 Americans every year.  In other words, police killings have made up about one out of every twelve violent deaths of Americans between 2010 and 2018…including American military deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere during that window.  Indeed, more Americans died at the hands of [cops] during that period (about 14,400) than died while on active military duty (about 9,400).  Police violence in America is…disproportionate to the actual threats facing [cops]…historically, police unionization has led directly to increases in police killings, but no change in crime…When incompetent DMV workers are not fired, when abusive teachers are reshuffled around schools, when bureaucrats use administrative gimmicks to thwart the electorate’s desire to rein in excessive spending, we conservatives are quick to (correctly!) identify the pernicious work of public-sector unions.  Whereas all workers should have some say in their employment conditions, such as via unionization, public-sector workers already get a say in their employment conditions without a union: they get to vote on who their boss is!  Public sector unions give the bureaucrats double the “votes” of the rest of us…The difference is that, unlike other public sector unions, police unions have military-grade equipment they can use to violently crush protests against their abuses, and they are legally immune from most consequences.  They’re teachers’ unions, but with tanks and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards…

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