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Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Whenever I use the toilet, all the horses break down my door and rush into my bathroom so they can intently watch me.

In this video, members of the band The Academic take advantage of a flaw in Facebook’s livestreaming software to record a song with their own past selves; it’s really quite interesting.  The video was contributed by Kevin Wilson, as was “horror”; the other links above the video were provided by Radley Balko (“pigs” and “together”), Conner Habib (“promises”), Jesse Walker (“books”), and Clarissa (“surprise”).

From the Archives

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I think that is an interesting attempt to cover their butts.  –  Adam Frank

Here’s another song that I considered my favorite at some point in childhood.  There are several interpretations of the lyrics; any of them present an interesting coincidence, given that I was much too young to have any idea of their meaning (I just liked Freda Payne’s voice and the way the song sounded musically).  The links above the video were provided by Eddie J CunninghamPatrick Nonwhite, ClarissaJesse WalkerMistress MatissePopehat, and Nun Ya, in that order.

From the Archives

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The government concedes it presented no evidence.  –  9th Circuit Court

We’ve all seen American propaganda cartoons from the Second World War, but here’s an interesting twist: a Japanese propaganda cartoon from 1936 in which the evil Mickey Mouse bombs Japan and is defeated by Japanese cartoon characters.  Like so many interesting videos lately, it was called to my attention by Jesse Walker; the links above it were provided by Rick HorowitzEd KrayewskiJason KuznickiTim CushingEmma EvansKevin WilsonDave Krueger, and Tim Cushing again, in that order.

From the Archives

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SWOP Behind Bars is a new project, which attracted my attention soon after its formation; I think it’s incredibly important so I asked the organizer, Alex, to explain the project herself.  I’ve already donated a copy of my book (and will donate more to other prisons as the project expands), and I’ve given Alex carte blanche to use any of my columns in the newsletter she compiles for our incarcerated sisters.  As a former librarian, I well know the power books have to change lives, yet they’re so inexpensive; please consider donating at least one book to this program, and read on for other ways you can help. 

prison art 955No one really knows how many women who are imprisoned have done some form of sex work, but guesstimates from prison and probation officials run as high as 70%, and it’s difficult to ignore the probability that the criminalization of sex work has a major impact on the prison population.  According to the Florida Department of Corrections almost 6800 women are currently serving a sentence in Florida prisons, and another 38,000 are on state-supervised probation.  Women make up approximately 7% of the Florida prison population, with 144 under the age of 21; black and Hispanic women outnumber white women 3 to 1.  Programs for women behind bars are very limited, inadequately funded and mostly faith based, and re-entry services are pretty much limited to $50 and a bus ticket home, wherever that might be.  While the biggest fear for a sex worker might be arrest, the biggest fear for imprisoned women is what will happen to them when they are released.  These women return to their communities desperate and defined by their experience;  their families are disconnected and they must find their own way to rebuild their lives.  There is virtually no housing for those recently released, and they will be denied almost all public benefits because of their criminal records; they can’t get decent employment and they won’t be able to get a student loan in order to advance their education if they can’t or don’t want to engage in sex work.  When this discrimination is combined with whore stigma and the ever-present shaming of current or former sex workers, those who have been incarcerated have virtually no opportunity to thrive on release.

The SWOP Behind Bars project at Lowell Correctional Institution is working to reach out to sex workers behind bars by donating books to the prison library, sending newsletters to those currently incarcerated and building a nationwide network of sex worker-supported letter writing.  Women in prison who receive regular mail are perceived as “highly valued”, and it is the hope of SWOP Behind Bars to flood our incarcerated sisters with mail.  We are currently working to integrate with other prison book donation organizations to duplicate our efforts nationwide, in the hope that over time we can create a sense of community and support that will help them cope while imprisoned and rebuild their lives once released.

This didn’t happen overnight and it’s not even an original idea.  In the early days of sex work activism, Margo St James sued the state of California to improve programs and services for women in prison.  As the sex worker rights movement grew over the next 20 years and the Amnesty decision support decriminalization thrust sex worker rights into mainstream discourse, we still loudly protested the criminalization of sex work and have worked diligently to minimize the danger of being arrested; however, there are still so many sex workers in prison and they need to know we are here for them.  Many do not identify as sex workers, yet it only takes a cursory investigative search of the Department of Corrections websites to recognize that there is a large incidence of previous convictions for prostitution.  Women in prison do not know about the vibrant sex worker community that is rising up in the US, and we think they should.  Those of us who live in the free world have connected with each other via social media and through the organized efforts of Sex Worker Rights Organizations.  We have shared our experiences and our knowledge with each other on Facebook, Instagram, Tumbr and Twitter.  We have Art Shows and Operas and International Days we recognize together.  We have at last created our own community that – for the most part – has given us all a solidarity that is unprecedented.  We even have our own insignia…the Red Umbrella.  Now we need to get back to our roots and reach out to those behind bars because that is where those who have suffered the most from criminalization reside.

prison art 969Reading books is a popular prison pastime and unless one has somebody sending reading material inside, she is limited to what is in the prison library.  But prison libraries are limited to what was left behind by others, legal books and a flurry of faith based material; our goal is to provide books to improve the lives of prisoners, to provide educational resources, and to help reduce the likelihood of their returning to the prison system.  Our communities fare better when prisoners returning to society have had an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature as individuals, and books can provide inspiration and knowledge for that growth.  We believe that books about sex workers, provided by sex workers, for sex workers, and to sex workers are the greatest way we can invite them to participate in our community and let them tell us how we can improve our efforts to make sure that they have the tools to develop the best version of themselves.  Already the Lowell Correctional Facility for Women has been inundated with books donated by authors and individuals that tell about our history, our stories and our hopes for the future.  The generosity of the sex worker community has been overwhelming.  Each book donated will have a label placed inside that will identify our community and let them know how to reach out to us by phone and by mail.  The SWOP Community Support has been activated with a new flock of enthusiastic volunteers to answer calls.  Our first newsletter will be sent to more than 100 incarcerated recipients in the next few weeks, and we will be asking them to write to us and tell us their stories, and to organize support groups inside.  We will be providing evidence-based material for them to learn more about us and about themselves.  We have been invited to participate in the creation of a program that will launch this summer, in which we’ll have the opportunity to provide trauma informed, sex work positive training to corrections officers and other prison officials in the State of Florida.  We are also working to create re-entry support services that are available to assist those who have recently been released find the resources they need to accomplish the goals they set for themselves.

Our call to the sex worker community is to join us in reaching out to sex workers behind bars.  Here are 10 ways you can help.

  1. If you know someone who is in prison whom we could include in our monthly newsletter, send their mailing information to swopbehindbars@gmail.com.
  2. If you are the AUTHOR or PUBLISHER of a book you would like to donate, instructions are listed here.
  3. If you have your own newsletter or if you want to start writing to sex workers behind bars, we can send you our current list of sex workers.  We are not publishing an online list of incarcerated sex workers until they request us to do so.
  4. If you want to send a book to a specific resident of a jail or prison, you MUST send it using Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. There are no exceptions to this requirement in any US jail or prison.
  5. If you want to submit a story to the monthly newsletter, please send it to us at newsletter@swopbehindbars.org.
  6. If you want to donate NEW BOOKS to the Lowell Corrections Institution Library, we have a wish list on Amazon.com.
  7. If you want to donate USED BOOKS to the prison library, please send an email to swopbehindbars@gmail.com and we will tell you how this works and send you instructions.
  8. If you want to start your own book donation program in your state prison or county jail, let us know and we will be happy to share our tips and tricks.  We want to keep a record of books that are donated and a list of facilities where they are going so we know how to face future challenges with Books Behind Bars projects.
  9. We are building a toolkit for sex workers to use to reach out to recently arrested sex workers, and we will publish that information on the website and on Facebook and Twitter when it is complete.
  10. Finally, if you have ideas or resource material that you think would advance this project or assist in the creation of re-entry resources, please let us know about it.  We are particularly interested in people who are willing to engage directly by phone, mail or email with recently released sex workers who need a sex worker friendly, non-judgmental mentor.

prison art 956
The books most often requested are biographies, short stories and self-help books, particularly those that assist with addiction and trauma related issues.  SWOPUSA will be happy to send you a tax deductible receipt for the published price of the books, the cost of printing newsletters and any shipping or mailing costs you incur.  You do not have to use your own return address for mailing books or newsletters; you may use the SWOP USA return address:

SWOP-USA
340 S LEMON AVE #7566
WALNUT CA 91789

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If you want to reduce abuse, you need to find a way to hack the system that increases the power of marginalized people, not of the police.
–  Noah Berlatsky

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

Remember, sex work is legal but “regulated” in India.  Here’s what that looks like:

…police abuse and bad laws live on despite decades of evidence of the harm being done to millions of Indian women…[who] are arrested under charges of “possession of condoms”, or even on false charges of “possession of narcotics”…(They) are rounded up at the end of the month when the target for petty/minor offences are not met…Some [cops] are known…to be self-avowed crusaders against “prostitutes”.  Instead of protecting these women from…criminal elements, the police adds its own violence and abuse to that of other criminals…whether [under] the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986, or the myriad “vagrancy” and “public indecency” acts commonly used against them…[police] “victimise the women,” doubling their “exploitation and extortion”…

It Looks Good On Paper

It’s not “surprising” in the least; as I’ve explained repeatedly, only very rare “perfect victims” are helped by so-called “safe harbor” laws:

…Latesha Clay…was sentenced to prison for up to 20 years…Clay, whose name was inexplicably released by local press despite her status as a minor, had been offered up as bait in a Backpage post advertising sex with the underage girl.  When the clients showed up at a Motel 6…they were met by an adult male, Trayvin Donnell Lewis, who used a realistic-looking airsoft gun to drive the clients to an ATM and rob them…However, Clay herself fits every guideline for qualifying as a trafficking victim just by virtue of being underage and [advertising] online for sex.  According to the Justice Department’s federal definition of sex trafficking, a person under 18 engaging in prostitution (even the mere “offering” of sex for sale) is automatically considered a trafficking victim regardless of whether a pimp or client used “force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or any combination of those means, to cause the minor to engage in a commercial sex act”.  When the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) was signed into law in 2015, many advocates [imagined] the federal government [would] increase protections for underage…teens…in the sex industry…That’s why Clay’s prison sentence, rather than the kind of support and treatment outlined by the JVTA, is surprising…

Tyranny By Consensus 

Los Angeles County and the porn industry are at “a stalemate” over a mandatory condom requirement, according to criminal and constitutional lawyer Paul Cambria Jr…”Measure B”…was approved by L.A. voters in 2012, and has been embroiled in legal challenges ever since…Both a U.S. district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Vivid’s argument that the condom law violates the First Amendment…But…affirmed the lower court’s decision to enjoin several key provisions…including stipulations that noncompliant production companies could have their permits taken away and a provision related to searches and seizures…The state can still go after filmmakers under California’s occupational safety rules, however…the agency’s heart doesn’t seem to be in enforcement…Karen Fuller Tynan…who specializes in adult-industry cases…helped one client settle with the agency for $685—down from an initial attempt to fine the company more than $20,000 for “lack of barrier protection” in a film scene.  She also represented porn company Evil Angel…they went to trial, and half way through the first morning in court the agency dropped all charges related to condoms…

The Public Eye

This interview with retired madam Jami Rodman is overblown & sensationalized, as such interviews tend to be when the interviewed sex worker was connected to some kind of scandal.  But the more the public sees us as real people, the harder it will be to keep the “sex trafficking” lie afloat.

Bottleneck

How Laws Regulating Sex Work Ignore Workers Themselves” is another good example of the stupid, evil laws created by amateurs to “regulate” sex workers, justified under the excuse of “protecting” us from our own choices.  Click to open the image at right, then click again to enlarge.

Checklist

Fellow librarians: this is bullshit.  It is a serious breach of your professional ethics to support the surveillance state against patrons:

…More than 800 staff members at all of San Diego’s 36 library locations recently received training on how to spot sex trafficking victims, how to start a conversation with them, and ultimately how to steer them to the appropriate resources for help…Local law enforcement statistics show an alarming rise in sex…trafficking cases.*  San Diego is one of the top 10 worst cities in America for human trafficking**, and…it is the second most lucrative industry in the region, right behind drug trafficking.^  “It’s a big problem with gangs,” said [library director Misty] Jones. “Gangs are actually trafficking people more so than trafficking drugs now”^^…

*  No, they don’t.   **No, it isn’t.
^ No, it isn’t.        ^^No, they aren’t.

Opting Out

New Zealand bureaucrat imagines he can stop people from seeing online porn he doesn’t like, despite the fact that Australia abandoned a similar censorship scheme as unworkable:

…deputy chief censor Jarred Mullen detailed the harm that [he pretends] increasingly extreme pornography that can cause, and outlined some possible steps towards regulating it.  These steps could include an ISP level ban, where pornography viewers have to “opt in” to viewing pornographic content, similar to that of the United Kingdom’s…Current censorship law…already bans certain types of pornography, including [BDSM & scat]…Censors also look at whether the pornography “degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person,” but this does not necessarily result in a ban.  The censor’s office reviews every DVD released in New Zealand, as well as anything customs seize at the border, but their control over online market is essentially non-existent…

All-Purpose Excuse

in California…an elected official [is] attempting to use the latest law-and-order magic words—”human trafficking“—to push for mandatory decryption on smart phones…Jim Cooper wants to order smartphone manufacturers to be capable of decrypting and providing access to their products on demand…Cooper [bloviated]…”We’re going after…people who are doing bad and evil things.  Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it“…

Moving Pictures 

Yet another ridiculous “sex trafficking” fakumentary:

…Filmmaker Gunther Meisse II teamed up with…Mark Lovely to create a…30-minute documentary on human trafficking, “Shadow in the Heartland”…The pair hope to [sell] the documentary…to schools throughout the state so teachers can show it in…schools where it can be seen by young people who are most vulnerable to human trafficking…In 2013, Ohio ranked fifth among all states for calls to the Nation Human Trafficking Hot Line.  Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims…

Stupor Bowl (#601)

This is the typical “Super Bowl sex trafficking” story now; it debunks the specific gypsy whore myth while still accepting the greater “sex trafficking” myth:

Media briefs screamed into inboxes, blaring in all caps that the Super Bowl is NOT the largest human trafficking event in the world.  But…officials from the D.A.’s office and City Hall took the mic at Boeddeker Park to declare human trafficking an invisible scourge that haunts us 365 days a year…It’s hard to say how what began as an urban legend became the animus for ad campaigns and undercover stings involving everyone from local police departments to the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security…The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women reported that in 2008, 2009, and 2011, local law enforcement observed “no increases in sex work-related arrests” during the Super Bowl…judging by statistics, San Francisco is a hub of the global trade in humans.  The city has the 13th-highest number of child sex trafficking cases in the country…Many victims are shuttled through brothels, massage parlors, and other underground channels, while some are never counted at all…

But because the rescue industry can see the end of the hysteria is coming, it’s really trying to milk this Super Bowl for everything it can get:

…Traffickers from all over the nation and local traffickers already here are believed to gravitate toward the thousands of fans in town for the game.  Lisa Blanchard, executive director of the Grateful Garment Project, believes a sizable number of girls and boys trapped in the sex trade will be arrested or detained, enough to persuade her to organize Sunday’s backpack-stuffing event…”We’re already a hot spot…so when you bring in a big event like the Super Bowl, common sense tells you there will be an increase.”  Her…group assembled two dozen or so volunteers…to fill 165 backpacks with several items, including fleece pants and sweatshirts, underwear, socks, toiletries, flashlights and books — memoirs by people who survived the illicit trade.  Blanchard said the youths would need the clothing and items because they’re dressed “scarcely, almost naked,” when they’re [arrested]…by police…

The idea that “trafficking” fanatics arrive at their beliefs by anything remotely involving common sense is hilarious, but it may not be as funny as this:

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is calling on all Catholics to take a stand against human trafficking.  They want people to fast from social media on February 1…“the…day of Prayer and Awareness coincides well with two major events that cause a spike in human trafficking activity:  the Super Bowl (February 7) and, locally, Mardi Gras (February 9),” the Archdiocese said…Barbarella orgasmatron

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#605) 

You almost have to feel sorry for geeks, wanking to their ludicrous fantasies of a day when they only have to pay once for sex instead of every time.  But really, the idea that computers or highfalutin’ 3D goggles could ever replace actual women is deeply misogynistic at best, and misanthropic at worst:

…The world’s oldest profession is under attack from the newest…VR displays video through screens that strap to your face and create lifelike scenes…[Nevada brothel] Sheri’s Ranch has taken notice of the changes shaking the porn industry and is worried they could be bad for business…Demand for sex might be a constant, but how people go about getting it done has changed.  These days, they’re not paying for it like they used to. In 1948, 69 percent of American men reported having at least one experience with a prostitute, according to a study by The Kinsey Institute.  By the 1990s, that fell to as little as 15 percent…

No, it didn’t.  Honestly, repeatedly refuting this bullshit gets exhausting.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#605)

Contrary to a…report by CNBC, picked up by numerous other media outlets, Penthouse is not shutting down its print magazine.  According to [managing director] Kelly Holland…the magazine is launching a digital edition, [but] that will be a companion to, not a replacement for, its print publication…

Vendetta (#607)

Noah Berlatsky on Swanee Hunt’s HackTrafficking4Good scheme:

…the righteous, adrenalin-fueled approach to battling sex trafficking isn’t likely to help much of anyone.  The statistics on the site are grossly exaggerated and confused.  The claim that hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of sex trafficking is based on what the Washington Post calls “nonsense facts,” and the 12-14 year age of entry is similarly dubious.  In fact, the whole narrative that pimps are systematically kidnapping children and forcing them into sexual slavery doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Most underage people…engage in survival sex because they are fleeing abusive situations at home…not because they are in the thrall of criminal gangs.  The vision of noble hackers helping police to swoop in and save exploited women is dear to the hearts of anti-prostitution groups like conference sponsor Demand Abolition.  But it’s also fanciful—not least because police are in fact one of the chief dangers faced by sex workers…But the HackTrafficking4Good conference doesn’t see law enforcement as a potential threat.  Instead, the conference is focused on helping police with surveillance…

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I think my spaceship knows which way to go.  –  David Bowie

Within a few hours of last week’s links column going online, It was announced that rock legend David Bowie had died.  Had you asked me earlier that day whether I was a fan of his, I would’ve said “no”; I liked his music very much, and listening to him was always a pleasure, but I didn’t run out to buy his new albums or anything like that.  But when I read the news I felt an emptiness, and I realized that Bowie was one of those people I had always taken for granted; the idea that at some point in my life the world wouldn’t have him in it never crossed my mind.  And while Mistress Matisse and I were tweeting back and forth about his death and sharing videos, I suddenly found myself in tears; such is the cultural power of a true icon.  Bowie was King Freak, and proudly waved the freak flag practically from the moment he arrived on the scene; in doing so he sent a message to all the other, younger freaks like me that there really was a place in the world for us.  So I think it’s only right I should salute him by featuring his farewell video from his farewell album, released only a few days before his passing.  The links above the video were provided by Franklin HarrisJesse Walker, and Radley Balko (the last two), in that order.

From the Archives

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There is little doubt…that Curtis Scherr intended to inflict severe emotional distress on his daughter-in-law and succeeded in doing so.  –  Richard Posner

Not too many good links this week; the World Cup and hearings on the new Canadian Prohibition dominated my timeline, so if there were any other good links I missed them.  Most of these items are wholly absurd; some are funny-absurd and some horrifying-absurd, but most point to a world gone mad, especially where politics is concerned.  Everything down to the first video is from Grace; the links between the videos are from Jasper Gregory (“war”), Michael Whiteacre (“LOL”),  Popehat (“bureaucracy” and “trademark”), and Mike Riggs (“horrible”); and the second video (via Brooke Magnanti) is the world’s oldest surviving song, which may help you relax after all the brain-strain produced by the other items.

From the Archives

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