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Posts Tagged ‘left-right myth’

Every so often I like to present a short collection of tweets that you didn’t see unless you follow me on Twitter.  If you enjoy them, you may wish to rectify that situation.

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

A False Dichotomy 

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

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

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

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

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

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

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

Panopticon (#993)

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

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


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

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

And India:

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

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

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

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

(State) Violence Against Women

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

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

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

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

Social Distancing (#1084)

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

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

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The wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.  –  “War Without End

In the year since my last Armistice Day polemic, the severity of the cracks in the American Empire have become far more evident to everyone who isn’t willfully ignoring them.  As I wrote in “Post-Imperial“,

…whatever prestige the US enjoyed [has been undermined by] the ascension of a mad emperor who has made himself an international laughingstock, burned nearly every bridge, and weakened the economy with a ridiculous trade war; the exposure before the eyes of the world of the violent, racist, authoritarian rot that permeates the entire fascist sytem; the childish bickering and deranged tyrannies of nearly every member of the US political class, trying to one-up each other instead of fulfilling one of the few legitimate functions of government, disaster management; and said government’s shameless funneling of money into the hands of the well-connected on a scale unseen since the collapse of the Ancien Régime…The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was…

Last week, the process of replacing that mad emperor with a senile and more conventionally authoritarian one began, and how exactly that process will unfold is, at the time of this writing, not entirely clear.  But while the antics of the new god-king are likely to be less openly clownish than those of the deposed one, all of the other problems listed in the quote above will remain.  And the wars will go on and on, because as I said a year ago today:

…given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that…a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed…

Furthermore, we can expect most of the voices which have criticized all of this over the past few years to grow silent, as the pretentiously-named “Resistance” evaporates almost as completely as the Bush-era antiwar movement did after the inauguration of Obama, leaving “their guy” free to indulge himself in “empire-building, setting new records for mass deportation, murdering children with flying war robots and using strips of the shredded Constitution to wipe his arse with“.  I say “almost” because it seems at least some of those who describe their beliefs with the silly 18th-century label “left” are at least somewhat more skeptical of Emperor Biden than they were of Emperor Obama, and appear to be at least beginning to comprehend that would-be rulers who choose a jackass as their totem are just as enamored with violence and just as devoted to the principle of “might makes right” as their chums who prefer the totem of a clumsy, lumbering pachyderm.  One way or the other, it’s far too late for the American Empire.  But perhaps those of us who have been sounding the warning for decades may be joined by at least a few extra voices over the next four years.

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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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I saw several different articles covering this story earlier this month:

…trends in public opinion that we’ve been tracking provide strong grounds for concern. Our research…shows an upswing in…the number of Americans—both Democrats and Republicans—who said they think violence would be justified if their side loses the upcoming presidential election.  This growing acceptance of the possibility of violence is a bipartisan movement.  Our data shows that the willingness of Democrats and Republicans alike to justify violence as a way to achieve political goals has essentially been rising in lockstep…

Why does it surprise anyone that more Americans now support violence to achieve their political ends?  Their “leaders” have been espousing and practicing this exact belief for centuries against at least some targets, and since the late 19th century against the majority.  All prohibition and other “consensual crime” is the use of violence to promote purely-political ends.  Where there is no violence or violation between the parties in a transaction, the state has NO legitimate excuse for the use of violence to suppress that transaction.  Sending armed thugs to attack peaceful individuals because the “leaders” dislike their peaceful acts is, by definition, “violence as a way to achieve political goals”.  And when “leaders” have done something for over a century, why is it a shock when their “followers” follow?  Frankly, given the propaganda about “democracy” and “equal protection under the law” Americans are all fed since childhood, it’s a wonder it has taken four or five generations for the followers to absorb the real American ideal embodied in prohibition and policing: “Might makes right”.

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More than eight and a half years ago I predicted that when the end of “sex trafficking” hysteria came, it would not simply fade away, but rather violently implode.  A year later I described it this way:

…This doesn’t mean that things will get steadily better…in fact, they may get worse in some ways…In “The Widening Gyre” I referred to the “trafficking” myth as “an increasingly-erratic cultural meme spinning wildly out of control, whose far-flung debris is going to cause a lot more damage before it finally disintegrates”, and…[in] this last and most dangerous phase we should expect to see a lot more people hurt…Because it’s a useful tool of social control and a versatile excuse for tyranny, governments (especially the US government) will work hard and invest huge sums to continue the panic well beyond the time when it would have died naturally; that, however, can only work for so long, and once the edifice of prohibition starts to collapse the US will no more be able to halt the process than the communists could stop the destruction of the Berlin Wall…

As it turned out, government and private funds were able to extend the lifespan of the panic by about three or four years, and it was their own overconfidence that eventually triggered the death-spiral:

…the hubris of those who yearn for power over others above all else undermined their own plans; in the spring of [2018] power-drunk US politicians tried to use the hysteria to achieve their long-desired goal of control over the internet, and the result of that power grab – the massive internet-censorship bill called FOSTA – badly backfired, galvanizing sex worker activism so powerfully that neither the media nor up-and-coming politicians could ignore it any longer…sex workers who once preferred to remain silent have become extremely vocalacademics in many fields are urging decriminalization…and the broken-down Hollywood celebrities who champion police violence against women are increasingly finding themselves ignored or even publicly mocked for their cluelessness.  “Feminist” anti-sex rhetoric is finally being recognized as the puritanical garbage it always has been, and the hysteria, as I predicted it would long ago, is rapidly approaching the point of implosion

Less than three months after I published that came the plague, and as their funds started to dry up prohibitionists began to lose their shit, desperately attempting to somehow tie the pandemic into their profitable wanking fantasy.  But what not even Cassandra McNeill could predict was that the process of collapse would be accelerated by the most unlikely of unwilling and inadvertent allies, the Trumpaloons.  And the schadenfreude is so sweet, it almost hurts my teeth:

…the…#SaveTheChildren…hashtag [has been] trending…[thanks to] followers of QAnon, the sprawling pro-Trump conspiracy theory…[combining prohibitionist fantasies about] human trafficking…with…[inconvenient-to-prohibitionists fantasies about] a global conspiracy involving a ring of Satan-worshiping, child-molesting criminals led by…Hillary Clinton…[who] are kidnapping and eating children…in order to harvest a life-extending chemical from their blood…[unlike “]legitimate[” propaganda which claims sex workers and brown people are]…doing the [imaginary] trafficking[, QAnon cultists claim it’s] a cabal of nefarious elites that includes Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Pope Francisthe…[recent nonsense] about…Wayfair…trafficking children under the guise of selling expensive cabinets…went viral…in [part thanks to QAnon followers]…and…In recent weeks, Facebook engagement on human-trafficking-related content has surged…Even the Trump campaign has begun sharing more anti-trafficking content to its millions of Facebook and Twitter followers.  The QAnon strategy of pushing some [politically-approved prohibitionist nonsense]…in addition to [inconvenient, unprofitable] conspiracy theories has [forced the rescue industry and anti-sex media to attempt to draw arbitrary] lines between [so-called] legitimate anti-trafficking activism and…[inconvenient, unprofitable] conspiracy mongering.  Recently…QAnon believers [are even infiltrating pro-police state “awareness raising” events], toting signs with messages like “Hollywood Eats Babies”…Tim Ballard, the [pro-Trump] founder of the [dangerously deranged, violently racist] group Operation Underground Railroad, see an opportunity to reach a new, hyper-engaged online audience…Other…[rescue industry profiteer]s worry that QAnon will divert valuable resources from [established, well-connected] groups trying to stop [sex work and censor the internet]…After the Wayfair incident, the Polaris Project…issued a news release saying its hotline had been overwhelmed with…reports…it…[couldn’t] spin [for its own profit]…longtime anti-[sex] activists…[a]re alarmed by QAnon’s recent incursion onto their turf.  They ha[ve] worked for years to [invent and disseminate] fa[ntasies] about child trafficking, only to see them [hijacked] by [a rival gang of] partisan opportunists.  And they worr[y] that…QAnon belie[fs are so bizarre they] could undermine the [rescue industry]’s bipartisan credibility…


I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to watch the New York Times forced to debunk the prohibitionist propaganda it has eagerly promoted for almost 17 years.  As in tales of black magic, the “sex trafficking” fetishists, propagandists, and profiteers have lost control of the evil forces they unleashed under the delusion that they could control them, and now those forces are threatening them as well.  If this keeps up – and I fervently hope it does – the media and political opportunists are going to have to choose who they hate more:  sex workers and our clients, or Donald Trump and his horde of idiots.

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The ACLU of old is, alas, no more.  Gone is the organization so passionately devoted to civil liberties that it paid for a team of Jewish lawyers to defend literal Nazis’ right to free speech; in its place is an organ of the Democratic party whose main concern is keeping its cash flow as high as possible by parroting its primary donors’ beliefs (often in childish tweets repeating some a priori statement in all caps, over and over, without a word of justification), and never ever ever challenging those beliefs, no matter how anti-civil-rights and factually wrong they may be.  So it was unsurprising when they recently tweeted the silly rhetorical question, “Prisons and jails aren’t drug rehab centers, so why does our country use them as such?”  The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t; it uses them as cages to lock people up for the “sin” of drug use, so as to “correct” them.  The newer model of drug use as “disease” has been overlaid on the old “vice” model, but has not replaced it, just as newer brain architecture has overlaid but not replaced the old architecture of emotions, instincts, etc.  The same process is visible in cops vomiting out the new “whore as victim” rhetoric while still actually enacting the old “whore as criminal” model.  It’s what happens when a system is bad at phasing out obsolete processes, such as the ACLU being unwilling to change its name despite the fact that it no longer has very much concern for civil liberties.

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Sex workers are not a thought experiment.  –  Kai Cheng

Monsters

Violence against trans people is getting mainstream attention:

The NYPD drone circling over the protest outside the Brooklyn Museum [on June 14th] must have only picked up a sea of white.  That’s the color protestors were asked to wear to rally and march silently in the wake of the deaths of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah MiltonTony McDade, and countless other Black trans victims of police brutality and civilian violence.  The event featured speakers from the Okra Project, the Marsha P. Johnson InstituteFor the GworlsGLITS, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, as well as the family and loved ones of Layleen Polanco…Many of the people gathered had their own stories of police brutality to tell, but that didn’t stop them from showing up for the Black trans community…

Nothing To Be Proud Of

More queer sex workers are remembering that Pride commemorates a riot:

Sex work gave me a livelihood and autonomy…and…sex workers taught me resilience and self-worth.  Queer “community,” with its endless callouts and purity politics, has never come close to doing that…Maybe you came here expecting a congenial, well-reasoned article patiently defending the virtues of sex work as a profession and politely asking for solidarity.  This isn’t that article.  That article has already been written, several times, by several different authors.  That article should have changed all of your minds already about the fact that sex workers are human beings who deserve basic human rights, but apparently it didn’t, so here we are.  Still criminalized, still stigmatized, still by and large ignored by mainstream “LGBT community,” despite the fact that transfeminine sex workers such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are the reason that we have Pride in the first place.  People love the idea that sex workers need saving.  A lot of money, power, and attention goes into that idea – not to sex workers, but to our would-be saviors…In order to [really help], though, anti-sex work activists and police would have to actually care about sex workers’ actual lives, as opposed to their self-image as Real Life Heroes™ rescuing us from evil human traffickers…

Do Not Tolerate Domestic Violence

Government as domestic abuser is a very useful metaphor:

For ages the Democratic Party and its allies have been actively manipulating leftwardly-inclined Americans away from issues which might inconvenience the powerful — issues like economic justice, anti-imperialism, slashing the military budget, ending government surveillance and police militarization, and actually getting money out of politics…The powerful do not care if you have an abortion. They do not care how many bullets your gun can hold, they do not care if two guys get married or what gender pronouns you use, and they do not care if everyone is a racist or if no one is.  They care about maintaining and expanding their ability to exert control over other people…But…[now] people aren’t just out protesting racism, they’re calling for the complete dismantling of the entire police state…And the nice guy abusers are falling all over themselves to manipulate them back into their cage…Liberal narrative managers manipulated the people into understanding that they are only allowed to care about issues like sexism, LGBT rights, and racism.  The people responded by saying “Okay, well then we demand that you dismantle the entire police state because it is racist.”  Through all the confusion and fog of a lifetime of ingesting establishment propaganda, the people have still managed to find one solid strand of “no” that they know the nice guy abuser can’t actually forbid them from holding onto…

Quiet Genocide

Mainstream Western media are still largely ignoring China’s atrocities in Xinjiang:

…Formally an autonomous region of China, [Xinjiang] is today practically the largest internment camp in the world…Xi [Jinping] instructed the cadres of the Communist Party of China to “show absolutely no mercy” to its Uighur Muslim population.  The regime that now decries any allusion to the genesis of the coronavirus as bigoted then proceeded to describe Islam as a “virus”.  And its prescription for the eradication of this pathogen…was the swift “hospitalisation” of Muslims in indoctrination camps…up to 20 prisoners are packed into every cell.  Heads shaved, hands and feet bound at all times, they are permanently watched by cameras.  Their day begins at 6am and ends after midnight.  Their meals consist of gruel — except on Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, when they are served pork, forbidden by Islam — and they are granted two minutes a day to relieve themselves in a communal bucket.  The remaining hours are devoted to the performance of rituals intended to purge them of their religious and ethnic identity.  They must master Mandarin, the language of their overlords; soak themselves in party propaganda; atone for who they are by confessing to their existence as a crime; and endlessly chant slogans pledging subservience to Han supremacy: I love China! Thank you, Communist Party! I love Xi Jinping!…Inmates are made to sit on chairs embedded with metal spikes, starved, and suspended from ceilings and flogged with electric truncheons; their fingernails are prised with pliers, their skin is pierced with needles, and their bodies are pumped with mysterious medicine.  “Good” behaviour cannot bring relief from this ordeal because it is impossible for the captives to know what defines “good” behaviour…All that stands between the inmates and the torture chamber is the mood of the prison guards…There is no emancipation even in death from the humiliations…in addition to destroying and disfiguring Muslim places of worship, [China] also razes their graves

Silver Lining

My answer to the titular question: “I certainly hope not”:

…the anti-trafficking community has been largely silent on the blossoming conversation on police brutality…While some organizations have put out blanket statements about Black Lives Matter and racism, these…have not addressed the field’s entrenchment with law enforcement, or the use of anti-trafficking to re-brand abusive police forces/tactics and expand the police statecan a field that relies on carceral penalties and approaches even be saved from its pro-police roots?  The history of the anti-trafficking field has revolved around the decision to take social justice problems and apply a criminal justice answer…This decision to…center…law enforcement and criminal justice-based interventions was concretized through legislation which incentivized joint approaches between service providers and law enforcement and primarily defined success as convictions…

Social Distancing (#1031)

The Japanese are much more sensible about sex than Americans:

…nightclubs across Japan are trying to come to terms with in the age of COVID-19, as they roll out a raft of anti-infection measures to shed their newfound notoriety as hotbeds for virus clusters.  The industry [was ready]…for the full lifting [last] Friday of Tokyo’s business closure requests, which…pave[d] the way for host clubs and hostess bars…to officially reopen for the first time in months.  In reality, a number of nightclubs had already resumed business to protect the livelihoods of employees.  But…many parlors [are now] taking a stab at the new safety guidelines issued by the government on how to coexist with the pandemic…

The Cop Myth (#1049)

A Reason interview with Reason alumnus Radley Balko:

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The government has adopted a win-at-all-costs approach and [an attitude] that the ends justify the means.  –  Michael Piccarreta

Elephant in the Parlor

Politician takes bribes, hires whores.  Yawn.

…federal [documents]…suggest…a years-long trail of bribery between City Councilmember Jose Huizar and a Chinese development firm with a megaproject slated for downtown Los Angeles…[real estate broker] George Chiang…started a real estate consulting company in 2014…that directed money, consulting fees, casino chips, flights on private jets, luxury hotel stays, prostitutes and escort services between developers…[politicians] and [bureaucrats]…in exchange for approval of an 80,000-square foot commercial project and other downtown developments…

Dangerous Speech (#958)

The government keeps demonstrating that it doesn’t really care that its war on thought is wholly and incontrovertibly unconstitutional:

fiery motion to dismiss filed in the Lacey/Larkin case on May 1…accuses the U.S. Department of Justice of “outrageous government misconduct,” claiming federal pettifoggers and government agents repeatedly trampled upon the defendants’ attorney-client privileges…despite repeated warnings from defense counsel…and two [court] orders…the government continued to question former Backpage CEO and owner Carl Ferrer concerning confidential legal advice that was subject to joint defense and representation agreements with other defendants…the government grilled Ferrer repeatedly through “seven successive interviews” over the course of 13 months, beginning the day of his plea deal…In doing so…the government engaged in “outrageous” and “unconstitutional” misconduct.  Prosecutors “willfully invaded” Lacey and Larkin’s attorney-client privileges in order to “gain a tactical advantage in the case,” thereby violating the defendants’ Fifth Amendment right to due process of law and their Sixth Amendment right to counsel…Barring outright dismissal, the motion asks for an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the harm done to the defendants and possible sanctions against the government, such as the exclusion of Ferrer as a witness, the suppression of other evidence, or the disqualification of the entire prosecution team…

Negative Secondary Effects (#974)

The human cost of a prohibitionist crusade:

In March 2019 my life was turned upside down…by feminist groups who said I needed saving…Becoming a dancer at Sheffield’s Spearmint Rhino was the best thing I’d ever done.  It gave me the confidence I desperately lacked…[but then] Not Buying It sent private [dicks] into our club to buy lap dances and secretly film the women dancing.  They did this to “prove” to Sheffield Council that Spearmint Rhino was in breach of its own code of conduct and should have its licence revoked.  They filmed women naked and without their consent, and this was only the beginning…it traumatised the women …[and] hurt their families, their friends and their children…the ensuing campaign to close our club left me extremely anxious and scared to go to work…I was paranoid that every person who came into the club was another undercover investigator trying to take my job away.  I was always on edge, watching people, checking buttons for cameras, looking in people’s ears to see if they were wearing earpieces.  I was hyper-aware of customers who used their mobile phones and frightened that they were secretly recording me.  It was torture.  Work went from being the place I felt safest to a place I felt judged and under attack…

Business As Usual (#1001)

Every so often one of these sadly-typical stories gets more media attention:

Agents with…DHS…in Arizona have been “fighting” human trafficking by sending federal immigration agents to [rape women they claim to be]…victims…[then] seizing their assets, and telling the press it was these women who were the real predators.  Federal agents [raped] at least 17…”Asian females” working in massage parlors around Mohave County, Arizona, over a five-month period in 2018…the years-long operation yielded three misdemeanor charges…[the] scenario…is far from an isolated incidentnational and mainstream media have been discovering and disapproving of “Operation Asian Touch.”  This is great—so long as nobody mistakes what happened in Mohave County for an atypical investigation.  If you track initial claims about massage parlor-based human trafficking through to their actual conclusions, you’ll almost always find law enforcement simply targeting sex workers, small-business owners, immigrants, and the people who patronize them with harassment, assault, arrest, property seizure, prosecution, detainment, and deportation. And the “victims” they allegedly set out to save frequently wind up facing criminal charges.  There are only two roles women can play in this Homeland Security-led charade: helpless sex slave or conniving human trafficker.  (Both types…are invited to stroke ICE agent penises)…

I Spy (#1006)

But please, tell me more about “wings” and “blue states” and “democracy”:

The U.S. Senate comfortably approved a 2-1/2-year extension of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)…by 80-16, far more than the 60 votes needed for passage.  The measure must be approved…by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Donald Trump to veto or sign into law…

Like Houses (#1031)

All they were waiting for was a strong enough excuse:

In India, the COVID-19 crisis is turning out to be the perfect excuse for the government to consolidate its pre-pandemic surveillance ambitions.  Since May 4, as restrictions began to ease, the government has mandated the installation of its contact-tracing smartphone app for anyone who works…or uses public transport.  Failing to do so is criminal…Unsurprisingly, digital rights and civil society organizations are pushing back on the new di[ktat]…

Reawakening

A high-profile example of the quiet rebellion that’s already started everywhere in the US:

Alameda County [bureaucrats] backed down in their conflict with Elon Musk, reversing their shutdown order and granting provisional approval for Tesla’s Fremont, California plant to reopen.  Musk had already reopened the plant for business in defiance of the lockdown order, tweeting …”If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me“…Musk’s civil disobedience against the COVID lockdown regime is a high-profile instance of a wider trend…

Social Distancing (#1036)

At its core, Australia is still prohibitionist:

…as Australia eases itself out of COVID-19 restrictions…in [a] three-stage framework…strip clubs and brothels were specifically listed “to remain closed” even in stage three…other businesses with…skin-to-skin contact – like waxing, massages, tattoos, bathhouses and saunas – are allowed to open in stage three.  Scarlet Alliance CEO Jules Kim [said]…”We hoped this…outbreak wouldn’t be used as an excuse to turn back…gains made in sex worker legislation, but it’s hard to see this as anything but discrimination, considering similar businesses are allowed”…federal [bureaucrats] recommended brothels and strip club venues should stay shut [indefinitely]…sole operator sex workers…are banned after being classed as “non-essential”

Meanwhile, over in New Zealand:

The national lift to COVID-19 alert level 2 means it’s business as usual for many Kiwis, including sex workers…The New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective (NZPC) released guidelines for sex workers on their website…with a checklist of hygiene practices and safety measures workers, brothels and massage parlours should be implementing…

Torture Chamber (#1038)

No human is truly free while governments claim the “right” to lock people in filthy, disease-ridden cages:

In the vast majority of the world’s overcrowded and underfunded prisons…physical distancing is simply not an option.  In situations where close confinement, shared facilities and spaces and poor hygiene are commonplace…prison[ers]…are living in constant fear of the ticking COVID-19 time bomb…UNAIDS, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are calling on leaders to make detention a last resort, to close drug rehabilitation detention centres and to decriminalize sex work, same-sex sexual relations and drug use.  They are urging countries to release the people who can be released…The Government of Ethiopia…has released more than 30,000 prisoners and has heightened sanitation measures.  Indonesia is releasing more than 50,000…Iran is releasing 40% of its total prison population, 100,000 people, while Chile is set to release around 50,000 people…

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I’ve grown very, very tired of the whole “billionaires are intrinsically evil” idiocy over the past couple of years.  As I’ve said many times over the past several decades, wealth and power do not create evil; they merely enable the evil that is already inherent in the human brain.  Oppression is enabled by wealth and/or power, but not created by them; poor and powerless people are not morally superior to the rich and powerful.  In general, they are just as shitty; they merely lack the means to inflict their evil on others by any means other than direct interpersonal violence.  That’s why it’s impossible to “fix” authoritarian systems by giving more power to historically disenfranchised groups; given money and/or power they soon become indistinguishable from the other pigs.  The only way to “fix” systems in which people abuse power over others is to elimate abusable power.  In short, St. Augustine’s observation about children is also true (if you substitute socioeconomic weakness for physical) of the poor: “The weakness of little children’s limbs is innocent, not their souls.”

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