Posts Tagged ‘law’

The criminalization of sex work exposes not only sex workers but all women to more violence.  –  Alison Bass

The Proper Study

Yet another study confirms what we’ve been saying all along:

a recent study in…Las Vegas uncovers what anti-trafficking organizations might not like to hear.  The majority of youth selling sex on the streets have no pimps, or even third party managers, countering one of the key narratives of the sex trafficking movement that all youth involved are victims doing this work against their will…three fourths of the youth interviewed about the sex trade said they were not working with any pimp or other kind of third party manager…24 percent of the study’s participants reported use of a third party to find clients at some point in their lives, but only 4 percent…reported use of one at the time of the study…youth sex workers who do use pimps do so inconsistently and intermittently…[they] are finding their clients independently and negotiating their own prices…

It Looks Good On Paper (#340)

Remember that religious brainwashing program which “partnered with the Sarasota…Police Department…to bring victims into their care?

The conversations happening by phone are ones that the Sarasota Police Street Crime Unit hope will turn into a positive outcome.  “I want you to know you are not in any trouble,” [oinked a pig]…”We are just trying to reach out and let you know there are options”…Sergeant Robert Armstrong and his unit are [harassing and intimidating] women who have active ads online for escort services.  Many are involved in prostitution…The team is focused on connecting women with Selah Freedom…

“Many are involved in prostitution”?  Are these people actually pretending not to know what an escort is?  Look beneath the pious exterior; we don’t actually know what stated or implied threats these cops are using to try to intimidate women into this “program”, which is so unpopular the only way it gets participants is by cops literally forcing or frightening women into it.  If the tactic seems familiar, it’s because it’s much like Canada’s “Operation Northern Spotlight” except that the cops are (for now) merely terrorizing sex workers by phone instead of showing up at their doors.wesley-blackburn

If Men Were Angels 

“Youth pastors” are nearly as bad as cops:

A Pennsylvania pastor faces charges he impregnated a 15-year-old girl from his youth group during a seven-month sexual relationship…Wesley Blackburn, youth pastor at Faith Brethren Bible Church, told the New Paris church’s head pastor he had confessed to the relationship and asked for a divorce…church leaders immediately fired Blackburn…and alerted police last week.  He was charged Oct. 6 on hundreds of counts of statutory sexual assault and indecent assault…

Rough Trade (#446) 

A setback for women’s rights in India:

The Supreme Court…ruled that a sex worker cannot file a case alleging rape if her customers refused to pay her…The judgment…acquitted three people of rape charges in a case that is close to 20 years old…the Karnataka High Court had convicted them of raping the victim, who used to work as a maid; the victim’s roommate had revealed that she works as a sex-worker at night…the Supreme Court…[claimed] that the woman’s “conduct during the alleged ordeal is unlike a victim of rape and betrays somewhat submissive and consensual disposition”…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#502)

In which po-faced twits with tape over their mouths walk down a street holding pre-printed propaganda cards:

A long, single-file line of people donned [sic] in black, some with their mouths taped shut, silently made its way down Stephen Avenue [in Calgary] to [promote anti-sex work propaganda]…The [po-faced] group remained speechless, but handed out [propaganda] pamphlets to bystanders…former Manitoba MP Joy Smith [spoke] at the event…part of a global initiative by A21…

The tape is supposed to signify that sex workers are “voiceless”, a convenient lie for those who wish to talk over us.  A21, the NGO which sponsored this charade, is infamous as the source of the high-water mark of the “clients per day” competition of a few years ago: 110.

Eternal Vigilance (#610)

Just a reminder that prohibitionism still exists in decriminalized regimes:

New Zealand celebrities will be donning aprons to serve dinner with a difference at Destiny Rescue’s Dark Secret Pop up Dinner on International Anti-Slavery Day, Tuesday 18 October…Another special menu, thankfully not available in New Zealand, will shine the spotlight on the dark secret of the near two million children trapped in sexual slavery in countries like Thailand, India and the Philippines…

The table-waiting gimmick is appropriate given that Destiny’s idea of “rescue” is to teach brown urchins to sew, wait table and draw with crayons.

Wise Investment (#673)

Picket-fence gay men are such wonderful, dependable sex worker allies:

In his recent attempt to revise the history of sex workers in Vancouver’s West End, Kevin Dale McKeown…erases the West Sex Workers Memorial Committee and our eight-year campaign to secure financial reparations and a formal civic apology from the City of Vancouver.  He instead claims that his recollections are more truthful and authentic than the voices of sex workers…In McKeown’s distorted revision…expelled sex workers become the villains.  However, our archival research found close to 1,000 news articles revealing that power elites in the early 1980s — including Mayor Mike Harcourt, MP Pat Carney, Attorney General Brian Smith, Concerned Residents of the West End (CROWE) and Shame the Johns — forged a “war on hookers” with lethal consequences…Residents like McKeown moved into the West End when it was a thriving [24-hour] entertainment zone…McKeown…frantically disavows his own and other white gay men’s complicity in hooker-bashing tactics…McKeown makes a failed attempt to hide his investment in a “quiet” and “peaceful” gaybourhood cleansed of “noisy” hookers…

Too Close To Home (#677)

These are the people who claim they want to “protect” women, and portray the men we choose to have sex with as “sexual predators”:

…after settling a sexual-harassment lawsuit for $1 million in 2013, the King County Sheriff’s Office…is again embroiled in a legal fight over its treatment of female officers.  This time, two…deputies and one sergeant are accusing the county of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual-orientation based harassment, and retaliation…a former head of internal affairs [is] seeking whistleblower protections before he talks.  Central to many of these claims is King County Sheriff John Urquhart…[whose] tenure so far…has been ignominious, involving the two sexual-harassment lawsuits, a cop convicted of pimping his wife and selling his colleagues steroids, a bogus “sex trafficking bust,” a chief-of-staff with polygraph problems, and more…this latest lawsuit…specifically calls out the actions of Sheriff Urquhart, Major Sean Ledford, and Sergeant Dewey Burns…defensive tactics instructor Melissa Deer…claims [Burns] grabbed her crotch during a training exercise…text messages showed the sergeant making racist, anti-gay, and sexually explicit comments to other staffers, including…Deputy Amy Shoblom…who…is one of three plaintiffs in the current suit, along with Diana Neff…and Julie Blessum…[Burns’] antics included texting her half-naked photos of women he was sleeping with, asking during a roll call if she had “hooked up” with a male deputy, and drawing a penis on the hood of her car with hand sanitizer…

There’s a lot more, and it’s by the awesome Liz Brown so you should read it all.

Send In the Clowns dublin-clown

The most disturbing thing about the clown hysteria is the way in which it has so quickly given rise to organized violence and naked authoritarianism.  A “Clown Lives Matter” protest against the panic, to be held in Tucson, was cancelled due to amateur threats of violence, and the professional violence-inflicters are responding by criminally charging people and destroying young childrens’ lives.  The hysteria has also spread to Ireland, and while police in Dublin have responded calmly, those in Belfast have responded with US-style threats of violence and lifelong imprisonment.  Dutch police are moronically calling for a prankster there to turn himself in, and the ever-lunatic British tabloid press have found a way to merge the clown panic into “sex predator” panic:

The basic premise of [this] story is that some men get off on women dressed as creepy clowns, they’re causing a spike in clown-porn searches and clown-fetish requests at escort services, and soon their “sick fetish” may lead them to commit real-world sexual assaults “as the adrenaline junkies seek more ‘extreme thrills'”…what the story lacks in logic it makes up for in references to “sex-mad sickos” and quotes from an anonymous escort-agency head…[it] also quotes a woman who counsels rape victims and worries that the “clown craze” provides cover to predators…Popular millennial women’s website Elite Daily published a clown-sex-panic story…warning readers that “the sexual deviants partaking in the madness are allegedly dressing up as clowns and experimenting with BDSM” and “those who are involved in the aggressive clown porn are potentially dangerous.”

Power Play

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

Dennis Hof…said that while he supports law enforcement aggressively enforcing laws against underage sex trafficking, he believes that law enforcement in the United States would have an easier time doing its job if adult prostitution were [legalized]…using the [Nevada]…model…Hof said [independent sex workers spread]…sexually transmitted diseases…”My brothel business model [magically] puts the…pimps [who aren’t politically connected] out of business, [magically] stops underage girls from working illegally [?] and [magically] ends sex trafficking [even though 99% of Nevada sex workers prefer to work illegally than to submit to the onerous brothel regime]”…

In the first version of the press release, Hof actually cheered the arrests of the owners & CEO of Backpage; I guess he later realized that was vile even by his standards.

Challenge (#681)

The ACLU has finally done something to act on its theoretical support for decriminalization by filing an amicus brief in the ESPLERP case:

The ACLU brief supports the lawsuit’s contention that California’s penal code violates fundamental constitutional rights to sexual privacy and is enforced in a discriminatory manner…Lawrence v. Texas…recognized that “liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex”…The ACLU brief also argues that the California penal code is unconstitutional because the way it is enforced is discriminatory.  Certain groups, such as transgender women, LGBT youth, and female sex workers are targeted and arrested for prostitution in disproportionately higher numbers than other people…

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We see no constitutionally adequate basis to criminalize sex solely because one consenting adult pays another.  –   Hayley Gorenberg  and Richard Saenz of Lambda Legal

Rough Trade 

Be careful out there, my sisters in Philadelphia:

Philadelphia police say a predator who’s attacked female prostitutes earlier this year may be responsible for two more recent attacks…the most recent incident occurred Oct. 1 when a man on a bike propositioned [a street worker] for sex…the man choked her until she lost consciousness…Police believe the same man also accosted another prostitute at gunpoint Sept. 19.  He took her to an alley and [raped] her while holding a knife to her face.  Police believe the same man attacked a prostitute with a brick then stabbed [to death]…on July 16. She died.  The same man, often arriving on a bike, is believed to have attacked at least one other prostitute, slashing her throat April 19.

The Lesser of Two Evils

As I’ve pointed out before, most laws governing sex work prior to the late 19th century were aimed at drawing lines between harlots and “good” women, rather than at advancing a quixotic crusade to “eradicate” the ineradicable.  Here’s a list of garments prostitutes were required to wear in various medieval European cities:

Beaucaire: a mark on the left arm…
Berne: red cap.
Bristol: striped hoods.
Castres: a man’s hat and a scarlet belt.
Florence: gloves and bells on the head…and high-heeled slippers.
Languedoc: a cord belt.
Leipzig: yellow cloak trimmed with blue.
London: striped hoods.
Mantua: white cloak and badge on chest…
Marseilles: striped tunic.
Milan: black cloak.
Nimes: a sleeve of a special colour.
Pisa: a yellow headband.
Strasbourg: black and white sugarloaf hat.
Toulouse: a mark on their sleeve.
Venice: yellow scarf.
Vienna: yellow scarf.
Zurich: red cap.

Saving Them From Themselves

Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever:

A man [in Australia] who found out that his 15-year-old stepdaughter was sexting her boyfriend proceeded to download the evidence to bring it to the school and the police to ask them to intervene…Now [Ashan Ortell] has been convicted on child pornography charges and placed on the sex offender registry…for eight years…

Frankly, I’m glad this idiot got what he deserved.  If anything, anyone who would report his own daughter to the pigs for the “crime” of having a sexual relationship deserves much worse than 8 years on the registry.

Gullible’s Travels

Even if this were true (which it isn’t), it’s a testament to the entrenched stupidity of authoritarians that they refuse to see that binge drinking on US university campuses only became common after the drinking age was raised to 21:

A growing number of college are banning hard liquor on campus in a move to curb extreme drinking — but students are still getting their party on, and some are adding an extra element of risk to their binges…the phenomenon dubbed “drunkorexia”…University of Houston Professor Dipali Rinker said in a study of 1,200 students, he found up to 80 percent were restricting calories, overexercising, purging or using laxatives in combination with binge drinking…


No, the sex trade in Ireland is no more “controlled” by “gangs” than it is in the US.  This is little more than a cop wanking fantasy of there being “bad guys” to target, aided and abetted by the pathological liars at Ruhama:

Five major vice gang members are behind three-quarters of the sex-for-sale business in Ireland, according to data taken from the most popular website used to advertise prostitution.  One gang this week has links to 80 advertised women and more than 10 transgender prostitutes, who can each make €1,000 a day.  Ireland’s multi-million euro vice trade is set for a massive blow as a new law to make it illegal to buy sex is due before the Dáil this week…

But just for fun, ask yourself:  If there really were mobsters behind all the sex work in Ireland, would they want decriminalization or increased criminalization?  Did the Mafia like the end of Prohibition?  And what happened to Mexican drug cartels’ profits when Washington & Colorado legalized cannabis?

The End of the Beginning 

This is what happens when you don’t fight tyrannical laws from the beginning:

A federal class action…challenges a Mississippi statute that requires people convicted of having anal sex to register as sex offenders.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Mississippi residents who say they were convicted under various sodomy prohibitions, including the “unnatural intercourse” law, and Louisiana’s “crime against nature by solicitation” law…the [registration requirement] is discriminatory and unenforceable in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating all state laws against gay sex as unconstitutional…

You know why they can get away with this despite Lawrence?  Because the Great Unwashed said nothing when federal courts established the precedent that the horrific persecution and ostracism inflicted on “sex offenders” are not punishments, but merely side effects of a record-keeping process.

Torture Chamber

Stop faking!

[In 1993] Anthony Gay…pled out to violating probation because of a “strong arm robbery.”  Gay was convicted of the robbery and hence the violation after nicking a hat and $1, resulting in a sentence of 7 years in prison…he was warehoused at the notorious…Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois [where]…”his actions…driven by his mental illness, resulted in years of solitary confinement and additional criminal convictions, chiefly due to a series of assaults on guards, including throwing feces and urine out of the food slot in his cell door.  By 2013, his sentence had been increased to 97 years and his release date pushed back to around 2091…he practiced self-mutilation, even to the point of cutting out one of his testicles and hanging it on a cell door in 2010“…He was literally crying out for help, and no one listened, save for his lawyers who managed to…convince…the court that the sentences Gay racked up while at Tamms had been improperly stacked…his new release date is set for August of 2018…Tamms has closed shop because its blatant incompetence and overindulgence in costly solitary confinement of people like Gay…

Making It Up As They Go 

Seattle pretends to be “liberal”, but it’s home to vile bullshit like this:

Escape to Peace launched…a…center for survivors of sex trafficking in Bellevue on Oct. 6….Carol Loya was inspired to create the non-profit after a 2012 mission to Thailand, during which she was shocked to see and talk to young…sex work[ers]…At any given time in King County, 300-500 underage girls are being trafficked.  The average age of entry is 12-14 years old, with some as young as 8 or 9…

Yes, they’re actually claiming that Greater Seattle has 20% of all coerced underage prostitutes in the entire US.

Checklist (#612)

More “beauty salon sex trafficking” idiocy from Ohio:

…100,000…cosmetologists throughout the state of Ohio…are now the latest allies in the fight against human trafficking…In Ohio alone, it is estimated that more than 1,000 girls and boys, between the ages of 12 and 17, are involved in the sex trade.  Last year, Ohio’s state cosmetology board approved a requirement that human-trafficking awareness training become a mandatory part of obtaining a cosmetology license…[fetishists fantasize that] traffickers or so-called pimps may take a victim to a hair salon in order to change their appearance to avoid detection…If stylists see anything suspicious, there are things they can do like get a license plate number and call police…

In a police state, even your hairdresser may be spying on you.

One Born Every Minute (#645) 

I’m pleased for the very small part I played in helping to expose this rapist:

Matt Hickey…has been charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney with three counts of rape in the second degree.  The charges…contain allegations from three women, including two women The Stranger wrote about earlier this year…who said Hickey told them he was working with a female porn recruiter, and asked them to audition for them…Not long after the first piece came out, three more women came forward to accuse Matt Hickey of rape.  These women told The Stranger that Hickey got them blackout drunk and raped them while they were unable to consent.  Hickey denied all of the allegations…

Vendetta (#664)

A look at the aftermath of one of the private pogroms bankrolled by billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt:

Cory Walcott, was chair of the Military Science Department at the University of Nebraska Kearney until he was busted in a highly-publicized national sting…Prosecutors have now announced they are dropping the charge against Walcott and another man, Maurice Briggs…Their arrests were both part of the “National John Suppression Initiative”…[in which] police departments across the country pose undercover as either sex workers or their clients, arrest a lot of adult men and women for things like prostitution and solicitation, then put out splashy press releases about all the “sex trafficking arrests” they’ve made…the ultimate arrest/rescue breakdown for Lincoln?

  • no underage or adult sex-trafficking victims discovered
  • no force, fraud, or coercion discovered
  • four women, ages 23 to 36, charged with misdemeanor prostitution
  • five men charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution
  • one man charged with felony solicitation of prostitution
  • one man charged with marijuana possession…

Send In the Clowns

The most interesting part of the clown panic isn’t the hysteria itself (which is kind of a yawn to anyone who’s studied such panics before), nor the copycats trying to get attention by mimicking the imaginary bogeys (ditto), but the bizarre things one finds in news stories about clown incidents.  One story says “Three ‘juvenile clowns’ were taken into custody in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under the influence of marijuana“; Holy Reefer Madness, Batman!  One wonders what the Kentucky man who “fired a semi-automatic rifle at a woman walking her dog because he thought she was a clown” was under the influence of; like some others, this story tries to blame the clown hysteria on Stephen King, specifically a new production of It which I doubt has anything to do with the panic.  Then there’s this Massachusetts Halloween haunted house which features “scary clowns” among its attractions, reassuring the public that “they would know if there was a clown impersonator among them.”  Self-important Australian “experts” pronounced the hysteria “dangerous” and “sinister” after it spread to Perth and to cities in Victoria (one wonders why they haven’t opined on the far-more-serious “sex trafficking” hysteria).  But those all pale beside the horrifying statements made by cops in (wait for it) Arizona:

The Phoenix Police Department reports five juveniles ages 14 and 15 were charged with scary clown threats. Mesa police [arrested] two juveniles…[one maniac said] “I would call it a hate crime.”  To prevent copycats, [pigs] and county prosecutors are taking a zero tolerance approach.  “Every image, every text, every mention will be investigated,” said [Commissar] Nik Rasheta…prosecutors plan to prosecute anyone else making scary clown threats to the full extent…[propaganda operatives] say don’t think social media will be a shield to make scary clown threats. Authorities have the technology to see who’s posting and spreading them…

Challenge (#679)

Lambda Legal has honored the commitment it made to sex worker rights last year by filing an amicus brief in the ESPLERP case:

…At the heart of Lambda Legal’s most groundbreaking victories and continuing mission is self-determination, including bodily autonomy.  When the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing same-sex relationships and gay identity in Lawrence v. Texas, it rightly rejected assertions against us that “public health” justified sodomy laws.  The movement for reproductive justice, from which we draw key legal precedents, similarly fights for facts over fiction when government tries to limit the right to contraception, abortion, or other similar personal decision-making.  Lawrence explained that the constitutional right to liberty protects all of us when we make our own decisions about adult, consensual sexual intimacy…sometimes relationships are transactional…consider prenuptial agreements, surrogacy, and hook-up websites; the fact that money is involved does not obliterate constitutional protections for marriage, parenting or sexual intimacy.  All of these truths animate Lambda Legal’s position that the government may not constitutionally criminalize consensual adult sex solely because it is bought and sold.

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Sex workers are getting paid for what we do – you ain’t.  –  Miranda Kane


The older I get, the more deeply weird (and frankly, kind of disgusting) the idea of giving strangers sex for free seems to me.  So I’m fascinated by the looking-glass prohibitionist notion that being paid for sex is somehow degrading, especially when I read stuff like this about what amateur dating (which I’ve never really engaged in per se) is like:

…It is not, in fact, sex-work that puts me off men.  It’s dating them.  When I was a sex worker, when a client came to see me, he knew I was a luxury item.  My Dos and Do Nots were clear from the start, and if he asked me to do something I didn’t want to, I said no and that’s as far as it went…sex workers see the best part of men – they’re polite, friendly…On a date I’m just one click away from rejection…The sex workers of Twitter created the hashtag of #banfreebies, an ironic take on what people expect of us as obviously being so “oppressed and exploited”.  Remember that, won’t you, the next time he rolls over and starts snoring and you have to bring out the Rampant Rabbit…

And since I’m bisexual, I feel it needs to be noted that women aren’t really much better.

Check Your Premises

It’s pretty bad when they can’t even maintain their own paradigm for more than a sentence:

Nine people were arrested in Suisun City [California] in a human trafficking operation…Detectives posed online as would-be ‘johns’ to contact prostitutes [that they pretended to believe to be] underage…Once the…sex workers arrived, they were [arrested] and [cops tried to pressure them into claiming to be]…victims of sex trafficking…Seven women…between the ages of 18 and 28 were arrested…

Uncommon Sense natalie-hot

Is there any other kind of work that is so consistently treated as a subject for abstract “debate” by outsiders?

German porn star Natalie Hot will appear in court…to defend her right to work as a “webcam girl”…from her detached house in Ampfing, Bavaria.  The town is home to 6,000 residents, several of whom have lodged legal complaints over their neighbour’s chosen profession.  Hot is challenging a decision by local authorities that prevented her from undressing on camera, threatening a penalty of €2,000 if she doesn’t adhere to the ban.  Their reasoning is that her house is in a specific land-use area, which does not allow for commercial use…A judge will now rule whether the room Hot uses for her work could be considered a “home office”, a label which would allow her to continue her work…

Finding What Isn’t There

You know how freshwater crabs wave their claws around and foam at the mouth when one throws them in salt water to purge them?  Picture that:

There are no statistics to back up her claims, but the country’s Chief Immigration Officer Annette Mark believes the sex trafficking problem in Antigua & Barbuda is more prevalent than perceived…Mark [fantasizes that] nightclubs and strip clubs…are to be blamed for the [nonexistent epidemic]…She said…“what is unfortunate is that the women who come seem to be willing participants, so it’s difficult to [force them to pretend] that they are victims of trafficking”.  According to Mark, while women [use sex work]…as a means of income, it is part of a slave trade…

Pyrrhic Victory

Not a police state, no sirree:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an ambitious plan to [equip]…10 bridges and tunnels leading into the city…with facial recognition and license plate reading technology, giving police a comprehensive record of every car making the crossing…

I Saw My Brain

More terrifying insanity from the pocket police-state that is Polk County, Florida:

If you happen to be heading over to Polk County Florida, be sure to check to see if you have anything on or about your person that may have someone’s business name on it…That’s what Tim Troller found out when an ever vigilant deputy saw a Sunshine State Dairy Farms milk crate strapped to his BMX bike.  Polk County takes broken windows policing to the extreme, a milk crate strapped to your bike is a major indicator that you are a career criminal, or as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokes-prevaricator Debbie Horstman put it, undoubtedly with a straight face… “Deputies are…looking for people who are doing even the smallest crime, because, what we’ve learned is, those who will go out and steal a milk crate, for example, are the same people who are probably breaking into cars, breaking into your house”…

Frequently Told Lies

Caty Simon on the “sex work leads to drug use” myth:

You’ve heard the story:  A troubled woman prostitutes herself.  To numb the pain of belonging to this sordid underground world, she begins to use drugs…and her life continues to spiral out of control…“Multiple studies repeatedly and consistently … refute this narrative,” [says] Melbourne-based sex worker Fae Adams…In a study conducted in Sydney in the 1990s, for example, a sample group of 120 sex workers were found to be lighter drinkers than a sample group of women health care workers.  They were only 15 percent less likely to abstain from illegal drugs than the control groups of students and health workers.  And a 2002 British study correlated “problematic” drug use among sex workers with teenage drug use pre-dating entry into the industry, as well as homelessness and convictions…Yet the trope about using drugs to make sex work tolerable persists—and many drug-using sex workers find it infuriating because of how it reduces and flattens their lives and strips them of their choices…

Feminine Pragmatism (#553) 

Stupid assumptions about sex work often result in incredibly stupid concepts like the idea that working independently is somehow noteworthy, or that making a law against one aspect of the work is the same as criminalization:

Italy has yet to exit from…the worst [recession] in its postwar history — and the protracted crisis has seen the number of Italian sex workers surge more than 26 percent from 2007 to 2015…The extended downturn also has fueled a proliferation of “good” women generating badly needed income by engaging in prostitution on the side as “house practitioners”…35 percent of the 20,000 prostitutes in Italy, or some 7,000 women, are house practitioners…Michel Venturelli, a criminologist who has researched the issue…[says] “It’s do-it-yourself domestic sex work”…The Italian parliament banned prostitution in 1958, shuttering brothels.  Since then it’s been chaotic in the sex-for-sale industry…

No, the parliament didn’t “ban prostitution”, as the article itself mentions later; it banned brothels, but even while those were legal many if not most sex workers worked outside of them.  The only “chaos” is in the minds of cops, prohibitionists and reporters who listen to them.

Traffic Jam (#619)

Remember what happened the last time Minnesota “authorities” claimed they had busted a “sex trafficking gang”?

About a dozen people were arrested in cities across the U.S…for running what authorities [pretend is] a sophisticated sex trafficking operation in which hundreds of women were brought from Thailand to America under fraudulent visas and forced to work as prostitutes to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in bondage debts.  The women – including one who was forced to have sex with strangers for 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week- were not allowed to move about freely and were “effectively modern day sex slaves”…The arrests, along with the recent arrest of the organization’s boss in Belgium, will effectively dismantle the operation, said Alex Khu, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Minneapolis…

You may also recall that “sophisticated operations” is the excuse pigs use to rape sex workers.  And if you haven’t yet read Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s analysis of very similar claims made against Seattle-area Korean sex workers and clients, now would be the time.  See more of Liz’s work below.

To Molest and Rape 

The ever-vigilant Liz Brown looks at several cases of rape & sexual abuse by cops, several of which I haven’t yet covered:

…Allen Large…of the Horry County [South Carolina] Sheriff’s Office…was recently indicted by a grand jury on five counts of…[raping] multiple victims…Large…is also the subject of multiple civil lawsuits accusing him of activity such as sexual assaulting a woman who came to him to report a sexual assault, sexual harassment, and threatening to interfere with a woman’s child-visitation rights if she wouldn’t participate in nude “catfight” videos…Horry County [cop] Luke Green was indicted for [raping a sex worker]…during a prostitution arrest and the same with a confidential police informant…On September 21, New Jersey [cop] Ed Leopardi [committed]…suicide…[because he] was under investigation for [anally raping] a sex worker at a Trenton police K-9 training facility…”then allegedly wiped his penis on the headquarters’ curtains”…

The Prudish Giant (#641) 

It’s impossible to express how much this delights me:

On [October 4th]  Facebook introduced Marketplace, a new section on its mobile app that allowed its users to buy and sell things with their friends and strangers.  By the evening, the social giant was apologizing for an issue with the section, which featured some posts that would not have been out of place on the…Silk Road…Illegal drugs.  Dogs.  Guns.  Sexual services.  Baby hedgehogs…Mary Ku, a director for product management…who had cheerfully introduced the Marketplace app in a blog post earlier in the day, issued a statement saying that a technical issue had prevented Facebook’s reviewing system from identifying posts that violated its commerce policies and community standards…

Now They Notice (#666)

Note that we aren’t hearing a peep out of Gay, Inc about this any more:

The chief executive officer of a once-popular male escort website pleaded guilty…to promoting prostitution in a federal case that prompted accusations of anti-gay bias…Under a plea deal, Hurant agreed not to appeal a sentence of two years or less in prison.  His company also cannot appeal a penalty of $10 million or less…

Send In the Clowns

Watching how the clown panic develops is an example of a moral panic in miniature.  For example, note how the skateboard carried by this hoaxer myseteriously transformed itself into an “ax” for a more imaginative witness.   Everybody wants to get into the act; sales of clown masks have soared by 300% from this month last year, and the website Atlas Obscura has produced this interactive map of sightings which they say will be regularly updated.  They’ll need to expand it, though; the hysteria has spread to Canada and also the UK:

A masked man carrying a knife left a group of children aged 11 and 12 “upset and distressed” when he jumped out on their way to [school in]…County Durham…in Suffolk, a boy “younger than a teenager” was chased by “several people dressed as clowns”…Tom Jackson…a first year student at Leeds Beckett University [said]…he was “very scared” when he saw a man dressed as a clown near an underpass…Northumbria Police issued an appeal and warning after a series of incidents in Newcastle involving people dressed as clowns jumping out and scaring schoolchildren.  A 13-year-old boy was arrested…following [the] reports…In Essex, two…schoolgirls were approached by two people dressed as clowns who asked them if they wanted to attend a birthday party…People on social media have also reported clown sightings in Cheshire, North Wales, Dundee, Norwich, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.  A man dressed as a clown “wearing a hockey mask and a blood-stained poncho” was captured on camera in…Greater Manchester…

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Political opponents of [Backpage] like to imagine that without it, sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors would simply cease.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Do As I Say, Not As I Do freddie-lorick

Of course they didn’t accuse him of faking:

Ten men, including a South Carolina police chief, have been arrested in an undercover prostitution sting…Chief Freddie Lorick Sr…told officers he needed medical treatment and was taken to a local hospital. It’s unclear whether he has been released…

An Ounce of Prevention

There have been a few close approaches, but this could be the most promising yet:

British man could become the first person in the world to be cured of HIV using a new therapy designed by a team of scientists from five UK universities…presently the virus is completely undetectable in the man’s blood, although that could be a result of regular drugs.  However if the dormant cells are also cleared out it could represent the first complete cure…

Girls, Girls, Girls!

While the feds actively persecute some sex workers

The federal government is again suing a Mississippi strip club, saying its owner still discriminates against black strippers…Danny’s Downtown Cabaret…managers require African-American strippers to work exclusively at the neighboring Black Diamonds club or pay extra to work at Danny’s.  The suit alleges patrons at Black Diamonds were allowed to grope strippers in a building where air conditioning sometimes didn’t work…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

This double dose of stupid reminds me of those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials: “Hey! You got your robot whore fantasy in my blow job cafe fantasy!” “No, you got your blow job cafe fantasy in my robot whore fantasy!

An entrepreneur who hopes to open London’s first “fellatio cafe” has revealed his staff will be made up entirely of sex robots…Bradley Charvet…claims the sex-bots will be programmable to a person’s needs and will soon be seen as “totally normal”…

Shift in the Wind (#131)

An interesting article on getting funding for sex worker rights projects:

As human rights and social justice funders, we try to reach those people who are most marginalized and excluded from services and protection.  Those who are least empowered, least resilient, and hardest hit by inequality.  But one group that ticks all those boxes is systematically excluded from funding opportunities:  sex workers.  Why are not more funders stepping into this gap?  What makes even human rights funders so hesitant to take on the human rights of sex workers?…

Lack of Evidence (Extra Edition)

Future generations will marvel at their ancestors’ deeply weird obsession with female virginity:

An Egyptian MP has called for women to be forced to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university…Elhamy Agina called on the Minister of Higher Education to issue a mandate requiring him or his officials to enforce the virginity tests…Agina reportedly [said]:  “No one should be upset by this decision.  If you’re upset then that means you’re scared that your daughter is in an ‘urfi’ marriage behind your back.”  Urfi marriages can be entered into without the approval of a bride’s guardian and can only require two witnesses, resulting in a cultural perception among some segments of Egyptian society that they are covert or secret marriages…

Fever Dream

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

…Chattanooga and Tennessee have become a focal point [sic] in the war against sex trafficking.  The effort has involved not only agencies such as the TBI and local law enforcement, it also has…made its way to Congress with the End Modern Slavery Initiative from Bob Corker, the…U.S. senator from Tennessee and former Chattanooga mayor.  As the geographic intersection of Interstates 75, 24 and 59, Chattanooga provides an easy path for pimps to transport their victims around the Southeast…That’s especially true for traffickers from Atlanta which, in 2014, was ranked as the No. 1 city in the country for sex trafficking…

Seizing Power (#593)

A win for Backpage on one front:

The Supreme Court announced…it has declined to hear an appeal from…Chicago…sheriff [Tom Dart] who was ordered to cease threatening credit card companies about doing business with…Backpage.com.  The justices let stand a lower court order that forbids…Dart from contacting Visa and MasterCard in his effort to [censor] sex [workers’ ability to advertise online]…

However, see “Crying For Nanny” below.

Challenge (#628)

ESPLERP vs. Gascon reaches a court which could potentially do something:

…ESPLERP…filed a brief in the United States Federal Ninth Circuit appealing against the Northern California District Court’s judgement dismissing ESPLERP v Gascon…Maxine Doogan [said]…“[The judge] acknowledged that Lawrence v Texas defined a constitutional right to privacy in individuals’ sexual conduct, and also acknowledged that morality was not a basis to deny that right, but then found flimsy legal arguments to deny that right…“Lawrence v Texas made it clear that governments may not intrude into the private lives of consenting adults by criminalizing their sexual behavior” said Mike Chase, longtime human rights activist…Contributions to support the court case can be submitted through…www.litigatetoemancipate.com

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-christopher-odom

A Spring Hill [Tennessee cop] has been charged with rape and sexual battery…Christopher Odom…pulled two women over for traffic stops on two separate occasions, once in June and again in July, [raping] both adult women…

Crying for Nanny (#659)

It’s difficult to overstate what a huge development this is; the allegations constitute a direct attempt to destroy Section 230 and therefore the entire internet, all so a few megalomaniacal politicians can score a few political points:

State agents raided the Dallas headquarters of…Backpage and arrested Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer on Thursday following allegations that adult and child sex-trafficking victims had been forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the site.  Ferrer…was arrested on a California warrant…[issued by] California Attorney General Kamala Harris…on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping….Harris…is running for the U.S. Senate in next month’s election…

Here’s more from super ally Liz Brown.

Dutch Threat (#678) 

Felicia Anna on the “My Red Light” scam:

…I’ve already talked about this project before…the mayor…proposed…that this brothel would be the first brothel without pimps.  A complete bullshit story, since first of all there are very few girls that actually have a pimp…and since this brothel has just as much chance of renting their windows to a girl with a pimp as any other brothel…there are hardly any abuses to begin with, as the numbers from the city of Amsterdam themselves prove…unlike how people (like the mayor for example) often claim…the mayor [is] trying to frame the current brothel owners as the bad guys…so he can have an excuse to close down the other brothels…only 6 sexworkers showed an interest in working in this brothel at all…

Send In the Clowns

As I expected when I wrote yesterday’s column, the clown panic continues to spin out of control:

A Livonia [New York] man was charged with falsely reporting an incident after he allegedly edited a clown image into a photo of [a local] Park…posted it on his Facebook page and then warned people to keep their children out of the park…Hooper…told his Facebook followers “the clown had then run away when he snapped the picture”…Hooper was charged with third-degree falsely reporting an incident…the charge is a misdemeanor…

In New York, making up idiotic stories to frighten the stupid is only a misdemeanor, but in Texas it’s a matter of national security:

..a 14-year-old [Houston] student has been charged…[with] making a terroristic threat.  The student is accused of threatening “to shoot up an HISD school with his clown friends” on social media…”We can’t ignore it,” said HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer. “We [completely lack the adult capacity to control our own actions or use any discretion whatsover]…

Just in case you think my editorialization there is a bit extreme:

…”This clown crap is really getting on my nerves,” [suburban Dallas cop] Latrice Pettaway wrote on Facebook Monday night…”Pop a cap in the first clown you see.  Someone needs to just hit one and the rest of these fools will learn”…police spokesman Shane Kizer said….said shooting people dressed like clowns is “absolutely not” how the department wants the public to respond to viral reports of clowns…

And Utah cops agree with Kizer:  “Police in Orem, Utah would like to make it clear that neither they, nor you, can legally shoot random clowns…

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I was wondering if it might be to big a jump for Americans to go from fearing sex to seeing it as a normal human activity; might not the Swedish model be a shorter step?  Decriminalization is best of course, but is it to much of a shift from criminalization to make all at once?

false-compromiseProponents of the Swedish model want you to see it as a sort of compromise position; that’s how it was sold in Canada, where the Middle of the Road is practically the national symbol.  But it’s actually nothing of the kind.  First of all, the Swedish model has never been adopted any place where sex work was already criminalized; it always results in the criminalization of behavior that was not previously criminalized.  Even if it were to be adopted in some US jurisdiction, the oft-heard claim that the model “decriminalizes the seller” is a blatant lie.  Because prostitution is a misdemeanor, arrested sex workers are usually charged with whatever the cops and DAs can think of to get a more serious crime, such as “promotion of prostitution” (ie pimping) or even “sex trafficking” if the cops’ victim was working with another whore; these laws are still in place under the Swedish model (described therein as “going after the pimps and traffickers”), and because there is no lesser prostitution charge the impetus for cops to level such serious charges against ordinary sex workers is actually increased.  But there’s another, more insidious and dangerous effect of the model: it establishes the legal precedent that adult women who behave in a way of which the state disapproves are not merely criminal, but incompetent.  As I explained in my essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”:

[The Swedish model] is solidly rooted in an archaic and sexist view of women as particularly fragile and vulnerable, and…posits that paying for sex is a form of male violence against women.  This is why only the act of payment is de jure prohibited: the woman is legally defined as being unable to give valid consent, just as an adolescent girl is in the crime of statutory rape.  The man is thus defined as morally superior to the woman; he is criminally culpable for his decisions, but she is not…the law has been demonstrated to increase both violence and stigma against sex workers, to make it more difficult for public health workers to contact them, to subject them to increased police harassment and surveillance, to shut them out of the country’s much-vaunted social welfare system, and to dramatically decrease the number of clients willing to report suspected exploitation to the police (due to informants’ justified fear of prosecution).  Furthermore, these laws don’t even do what they were supposed to do; neither the incidence of sex work (voluntary or coerced) nor the attitude of the public toward it has changed measurably in any country (Sweden, Norway and Iceland) where they have been enacted…a Norwegian study found that banning the purchase of sex had actually resulted in an increase in coercion)…and…despite the hype, the truth is that even operations framed as “john stings” or “child sex slave rescues” end up with the arrest and conviction of huge numbers of women; for example, 97% of prostitution-related felony convictions in Chicago are of women, and 93% of women arrested in the FBI’s “Innocence Lost” initiatives are consensual adult sex workers rather than the coerced underage ones the program pretends to target…

And we haven’t even touched on things like Norway’s “Operation Homeless” (in which the cops sent letters to sex workers’ landlords, telling them they could be prosecuted as “pimps”, so as to get the women evicted); the forcible collection of “evidence” from the “crime scene” (i.e. sex workers’ vaginas); and the expulsion of student sex workers who refuse to pretend that they’re “victims”.

Tl;dr version of the preceding: “No”.

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

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No woman is made safer by laws which deny her right to consent to sex.  –  Catherine Staples

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality 

“Contracts” like this offer no protection and can actually be damning in court should something go wrong:

An Austrian sex worker has been convicted over the death of a sadomasochist client left to die with a noose and a shoelace around his neck in a Vienna hotel room…[she] only received a two-year suspended sentence…due to attenuating circumstances.  The woman said the…client paid her…to help him lose consciousness by strangling him with the shoelace while he tightened a rope attached to the wall around his neck.  She said the man had signed a piece of paper saying he assumed “complete responsibility for all risks and health damages” and that he was “fully aware that such a fetish can lead to death”…With his head in the noose, his face a different colour and his hands and feet twitching, the woman tightened the lace for a few seconds…She then eased it, got dressed and left, as agreed.  But some 90 minutes later after the man failed to contact her, she began to panic…

Theatrics (#446) prohibitionist-escort-service-scam

A new low in prohibitionist vileness: using fake images of murdered sex workers to campaign for laws that will result in more violence against us:

…French [prohibitionist] organization Le Mouvement du Nid launched its own [fake] escort website, with help from McCann Paris…Girls of Paradise looks like a basic escort service.  You can check out profiles and pictures, and opt to chat or call the women you’re interested in before arranging a date.  But…each woman featured in Girls of Paradise is [supposedly] already dead…when clients initiate a chat or a phone call…they’re shown [fake] photos of the woman, beat up and bloody, or simply told that she isn’t available tonight because she was killed in a manner most grisly…Le Mouvement du Nid…seeks to…victimize [sex workers further by supporting the Swedish model]…Girls of Paradise will score a gold Clio

You read that correctly: the sociopaths behind the Clio awards (the advertising industry’s Oscars) gave this ethical abomination a fucking award.

Checklist (#542)

Another state plans to “fight sex trafficking” with magical posters:

…Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wants to require certain types of Anchorage businesses…to hang up posters [pretended] to combat labor trafficking…Berkowitz is seeking to update the city penal code on prostitution…to…reflect what he called “modern [propaganda]…surrounding prostitution and sex trafficking.”  For instance, changing the word “solicitation” to “sexual exploitation” in city law…

Too Close To Home

Remember that this is a sheriff who imagines he has the right to destroy hundreds of people’s lives because he doesn’t like their sexual choices:

The former head of internal affairs for the King County Sheriff’s Office now seeks whistleblower protection after saying Sheriff John Urquhart made troubling comments about women and meddled in internal investigations involving female officers who complained of discrimination.  Capt. D.J. Nesel recently testified that a county prosecutor threatened him prior to a court-ordered deposition in which he roundly criticized Urquhart…as a bitterly fought lawsuit involving discrimination claims against Urquhart and his office reached a boiling point.  Urquhart has been ordered to testify as attorneys for the county fight to keep Nesel from divulging details of the sheriff’s comments…

Challenge (#615)

I am proud to call this incredible woman my friend:

A sex worker has won the right to have a judicial review over a law that makes it illegal to pay for sexual services in Northern Ireland.  Laura Lee…for a legal challenge to the Human Trafficking Act at the high court in Belfast on Wednesday…A full hearing date for the judicial review will be set in 11 weeks’ time…Lee, a law graduate, had stated previously that she was prepared to go to the European court of human rights to challenge the law, which she and fellow sex workers [explain] discriminates against their rights to privacy, to earn a living and physical protection…

Pyrrhic Victory (#648)

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

Beginning two years ago, but unbeknownst to the public—until now…the Seattle Police Department…acquired the ability to watch your social media posts in real time, using software that can place those posts on a digital map.  This tracking software, which the SPD purchased in October 2014 from a CIA-funded company called Geofeedia, is designed to tell [cops] where you posted from and what you said.  It can also show hundreds of other tweets, Instagrams, and other social media posts from anyone else in the vicinity, and then file all of that information into one big database.  The secret purchase of the Geofeedia software—for $14,125—violated a Seattle law requiring a city official outside of the police department to be notified of such acquisitions…The secret use of the software…also violated the city’s 2013 surveillance ordinance, which requires “any City department intending to acquire surveillance equipment” to “obtain City Council approval”…SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb [lied] to The Stranger on September 23 that…”We are no longer using Geofeedia”…another SPD official…Brian Maxey said the department is now using software from a firm called Babel Street “to support lawful criminal investigations.”  On its website, that company offers…the ability to “geo-locate the origin of e-chatter”…

Remember, Seattle ladies, we’re all “criminals”, which makes spying on us a “lawful criminal investigation”.

Still a Child (#663) bear-breasts

I’m pleased to see this lawsuit, but sad to see they felt compelled to employ ugly whorearchical bullshit to further it:

Jane Does I, II and III say the state of Louisiana is robbing them of their ability to express themselves, and doing so in a way that discriminates against their gender.  These women are exotic dancers younger than 21, and therefore will be barred from performing in strip clubs in about a week…In a federal lawsuit, the dancers say the law violates the First Amendment by denying them freedom of expression, and violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause by unfairly targeting women…the law’s definition of strip club performers as “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” fails to prohibit the same conduct by men who are between the ages of 18 and 21…the lawsuit cites comments by legislators to bolster its case for gender discrimination…[politicians] said the law was aimed at protecting young women…[but] the law is already endangering young woman.  One plaintiff says she has witnessed pimps and prostitutes trying to use the new law…to “recruit entertainers who are now lawfully employed, but who will lose their jobs as a result of the Act.”  Another plaintiff…says other dancers under 21 have told her they plan to switch to prostitution once they can no longer dance…

Oh, and CBS? I don’t think the law is trying to stop anyone from “bearing” breasts and butts; how would such a statute be enforced, mass mutilation?

It Looks Good On Paper (#666)

What this law actually does is empower the cops to indefinitely detain underage sex workers “for their own protection”:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation decriminalizing prostitution for minors.  By prohibiting law enforcement from arresting people under the age of 18 for soliciting or loitering with intent [but not for whatever other reason might pop into their piggy heads], Senate Bill 1322 [pretends to] shield…those young people from criminal penalties…While embracing the idea of treating young sex workers as [incompetent] victims [they can lock up at will], law enforcement groups warned that removing penalties would remove a crucial tool for [caging] young people and keeping them away from their [friends]…

The End of the Beginning (#668) 

They’re only saying this because it’s true:

…A federal lawsuit filed [against Idaho] argues that retroactively imposing…requirements on sex offenders, in some cases more than two decades after they were convicted, violates the Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws.  Whether the courts agree will depend on whether they view registration and the burdens associated with it as a punishment…in August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit concluded that Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act goes far enough beyond Alaska’s law that applying it retroactively is unconstitutional.  The 6th Circuit focused on the act’s arbitrary classification scheme, residence restrictions, and burdensome reporting requirements—all features shared by Idaho’s law…

It’s What They Do

Are headline writers the most clueless people in news organizations, or does it just seem that way?

…[prohibitionist MP] Thangam Debbonaire [vomited out Swedish model poison and called for]…the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into prostitution – which recommended “soliciting” for sex be made legal – to be “redone” after its chair, Keith Vaz MP, was found to be paying rent boys for sex…[sex worker] Catherine Staples…replied by telling the MP her argument was helping to promote a negative stigma of her life choice, [correctly] calling her and fellow panelist, Dr Madeliene Coy, “anti-women’s rights”…

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I was approached for a date by a man who seemed to me as though he might be below 18.  My gut instinct was not to accept the date, so to salve the pain of rejection, I tried to explain why we don’t see under 18.  He became very angry and said he was disabled, but judging by the way he sounded, I believe it was a mental disability rather than a physical one.  It feels kinda shitty to reject him for that, but if I saw him I wouldn’t feel right.  Are the consent issues with a mentally disabled adult the same as when a party is underage? justice

Whether he was under 18 or a mentally disabled adult, you were probably right to reject the date.  Our culture is, alas, in the midst of a new Victorian Era, in which there is tremendous cultural anxiety about sex.  And while it used to be not at all unusual for a young man in his late teens to be initiated by a sex worker, now that would be viewed as “sexual abuse” even if he’s above the local age of consent, due to the magical corrupting power of money.  If his parents should find out and extract your contact information from him, you could be in very hot water indeed.  Even if he could prove to you that he’s over 18, you’d have to carefully examine the circumstances: does he lives alone and manage his own finances, etc?  If so, it would probably be fine, though obviously you’d have to decide for yourself whether you’re comfortable dealing with the special difficulties such a client might present.  But if he lives at home and/or has some kind of guardian, he’d be considered a “vulnerable adult”, and you could potentially be viewed by the law as “exploiting” him just as though he were under 18.  While it’s true that we’re all viewed as criminals by US law anyhow, it’s not really a good idea to turn a misdemeanor into a felony, nor to compound that felony.  And when sex is involved, the mass hysteria that currently grips our culture will make sure that your life is completely destroyed if you’re found out.  It’s sad if you can’t help someone who might be desperately in need of human contact, but there are some things that are just too risky, and I think this is one of them.

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




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