Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Presumption of Guilt’

Everyone knows that before ubiquitous internet porn, puberty-racked adolescents walked uphill both ways to and from school and never saw themselves as sexual beings.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Think of the Children! 

The subjects of moral panics are always “worse than ever”, yet somehow never reach the point of saturation:

A Hillfields [wanker] says prostitution in the area is worse than ever…Steve Bowen…[claims] residents have witnessed women waiting for business near the nearby school and used condoms have been found outside flats.  But despite the ongoing problem, only four arrests have been made since September 2014…Bowen says…“We have so many children who live round here and to see someone offering their services is life-changing…that is absolutely traumatic to a child…The social disruption they cause is engraved in the community.  The damage they cause to other people is never ending”…

“Life-changing”?  “Social disruption”?  I sometimes wonder if these people are even talking about the same thing.  Like maybe he’s using the word “prostitution” to mean “cops beating someone up” or something like that.

Lying Down With Dogs

What wonderful company the US is in!

An Iranian official has called for the sterilization of female sex workers and homeless drug addicts in Tehran to prevent “social harm”.  Siavash Shahrivar, head of the Social and Cultural Affairs Department in the Tehran Governorate, said those women should be “convinced” to undergo sterilization…”with her own approval, and not forcefully…Over 20 percent of them have AIDS and [they] spread various diseases…In addition to…spreading depravity, they reproduce like hatching machines and as their children have no guardians, they sell them”…

The Red Umbrella boot-cast-guy-who-attacked-sex-worker

In the US, she would’ve been arrested if she reported this:

[Toronto] police are searching for a male suspect wanted in the vicious assault and robbery of a female sex worker…on [December 29th]…After choking the woman unconscious…he…tied her up.  When she awoke, he demanded cash…he…is…approximately 25 years of age, at least six-foot-three with a thin build.  He has wavy red hair, a straggly beard and a light complexion with freckles.  He also has a boot cast on his right foot…

The Widening Gyre

“Sex trafficking” hysteria is now almost pure self-parody:

Eighteen-year-old Maddy’s family say they are terrified she is being “groomed” by a [19-year-old] in Argentina and are worried she is going to be sold as a sex slave!  Maddy’s mom, Tonia, says Maddy met…Andres, through a video game 13 months ago and ever since then, she’s been determined to fly to Argentina and start a new life with a man she has never met in person…Andres has promised her a place to live, money to spend, and…[assistance] with…schooling…Maddy says the reason she came on the Dr. Phil show is so she can prove her family wrong…she knows there is no way her online boyfriend is [a] sex trafficking criminal…

I love the way her dad declares Argentina is “known for human trafficking”, presumably because he saw it on TV or something.

The Public Eye 

It’s always heartening to see a sex worker run for office, especially when she wins:

A small Brazilian city, Manacapuru, recently made headlines after a local prostitute, Francisca da Silva, was elected deputy to the local municipality.  The candidacy…was put forward by local residents as a sign of protest against the city’s mayor Jaziel Tororó…The woman who started working as a prostitute when she was 11 earned about [$3] per client.  Starting next week, her salary will be about $2,300.  Silva currently lives with her parents and three children aged 6 to 10 years in a hut with wooden walls and a zinc roof.  After her election, she promised to distribute free food for prostitutes on the streets…

Moving Pictures 

To hear these yo-yos ranting, you’d swear this was this film had magic powers and was the only one ever made on the subject rather than one of dozens:

The digital version of SOLD…[was] released on January 10, the day before the Human Trafficking Awareness Day…a shorter PG-13 version of the film can be purchased or leased for screenings at schools, faith-based communities and corporations…The film tells the [fictional] story of a 13-year-old-girl, who is trafficked from rural Nepal to a prison brothel in India in order to repay her family’s debts…The movie has won [7 participation trophies]…at International Film Festivals…Since its release in 2014, the film’s creators have joined hands [to sing Kumbaya while standing on a lawn] with the Taught Not Trafficked campaign…The global average age of trafficked children is 13…“The International Labor Organization estimates that over 5.5 million children disappear every year into sex and labor slavery- more than at any other time in human history,” the press release said…

Cooties (#613)

It’s always “gangs”.  Because you know women are too stupid to use AirBnB for ourselves:

Police are warning owners of holiday lets in the south-west of England to beware of sex workers using their premises as pop-up brothels…Owners have no idea that their…properties have been used in the sex trade…Insp Dave Meredith, sector inspector for Newquay, has concerns that sex workers from central and eastern Europe may have been trafficked into the UK by organised gangs.  Meredith…said it was difficult to disrupt the scams…

Because renting a rental property and causing no trouble for the owner is a “scam”.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#639)

Note that pigs use the same tactics to harass migrant sex workers whether they’re portrayed as “job-stealing” aliens or pathetic victims:

While most people in Jakarta were watching fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, Immigration officials put on a show for the media, inviting them to film as they did a raid on the Sun City nightclub…during which they detained 76 Chinese women for allegedly working in Indonesia illegally as sex workers…Indonesian social media has recently been filled with rumors that Chinese workers were coming to the archipelago to steal work from locals…News of the Chinese women’s arrest seems to have been taken by some as a form of validation…They face likely deportation though it is possible they could receive up to 5 years in jail for breaking Indonesian immigration laws.

Morality Lessons (#640)

The “progressives” have given religious fanatics a powerful censorship tool:  declare anything a “public health crisis” and it can be harassed at will:

A lawmaker in Virginia has filed a bill that would declare pornography a public health hazard in the state…Robert G. Marshall [fantasizes that]…pornography leads to problems including the hypersexualization of teenagers and the normalization of abuse of women and children.  While not calling for a ban on porn, the proposed bill [imagines] a “pornography epidemic” [which] needs to be addressed…

Utah has moved on to step two, using civil courts to attack since the target isn’t illegal:

…Todd Weiler…who sponsored last year’s porn resolution, said he will soon introduce new legislation that would allow Utah residents who imagine themselves addicted to porn to sue the websites where they watch it.  “I’m trying to kind of track the same path that was taken against tobacco 70 years ago,” [said] Weiler…this silly “porn as public health crisis” meme seems to now be spreading to other states, egged on by folks at the group formerly known as Morality in Media

The Prudish Giant (#641) fountain-of-neptune

Facebook can’t even follow its own “standards”:

…Facebook has famously waged war on the female breast…But it’s not just breasts that offend: so do the sculpted genitalia of Roman gods.  An Italian art historian was reportedly told…to remove an image from her page showing a statue of the Roman god Neptune…Elisa Barbari used the image as an example of “Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna.”  But Neptune was deemed too explicit…[even though] …“We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures”…

Business As Usual (#664)

The final tally for 2016: 80% of all acts of violence vs sex workers in Hong Kong were inflicted by cops:

Abuse of prostitutes is on the rise and police officers are mostly responsible, according to…Zi Teng, which offers support for prostitutes…[out of] 615 reports of physical and ­verbal abuse…police were reported on 490 occasions…abuses…[included] 225 cases of [groundless] arrest…100 cases of [repetitive harassment]…11 cases [of rape]…17 [cases in which the cop used threats to obtain hand jobs]…making verbal threats and insults (57)…[sexual] assaults (three) and physical…assault…(three)…clients were accused of 125 abuses…Among them were theft (56 cases), removing a condom during sex (seven), [rape via] denial of payment (19), fraud (six) and one of [forcible] rape…

Presumption of Guilt (#684)

Remember the fascist bootlicker who wanted to eliminate high-denomination currency?  Well, India actually did that, and guess who it hurt the most?

A recent announcement which has seen two highest value bank notes in India (Rs 500 and Rs 1000) demonetised has had wide reaching impacts on many communities.  Demonesation means the bank notes are no longer legal to use.  Sex workers, women, hijra [trans people], refugees and rural poor people are reportedly amongst those standing to be most negatively affected.  The demonetisation policy was abruptly announced on 8 November 2016 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating the two cash notes would “not be legal tender from midnight tonight.”  An initial 30 December 2016 deadline was given for those able to present proper identity documents to bring the cash to banks or post offices for exchange or depositing into accounts…The Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Bank…announced it would accept the demonetised notes for a short interim period as the new policy came into place…

The End of the Beginning (#687)

Another setback for due process:

…a federal appeals court upheld a Minnesota program that indefinitely detains sex offenders after they have completed their prison sentences under the guise of treating them for mental illnesses invented by the state legislature…U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank concluded that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) violates the due process rights of the people it imprisons…he…correctly perceived that the “treatment” provided by the MSOP, which has never cured anyone in the program’s 23-year history, is a sham used to conceal a punitive purpose and justify preventive detention based on unsubstantiated fears of future crimes…According to the 8th Circuit, none of that matters, because all the state had to do was avow good intentions…

Read Full Post »

I have the right to choose what I do with my body.  –  Katherine Stone

Safe Targets 

In case you can’t quite figure out what this site is actually for, I’ll spell it out for you.  After Tom Dart’s megalomaniacal assault on Backpage left it unable to take payments except by money order or Bitcoin, many sex workers who weren’t comfortable with adopting the latter opted for the former.  But now that other sociopathic politicians have demonstrated that they won’t even let the law stop their jihad, many sex workers are terrified that their identities will be uncovered by pigs illegally rooting in Backpage’s records in a future raid.  Into this opening have stepped profiteers who, like Dennis Hof, are perfectly happy to charge an exploitative 50% by charging $2 for every $1 worth of “safe Backpage credit” (presumably in bitcoin) that can’t easily be traced back to them.  This is what “law enforcement” means when it claims it wants to “help” sex workers.

Presumption of Guilt (November Updates)

Fascist scum like this will be the first up against the wall after the politicians they worship:

There is $1.38 trillion worth of cash in circulation; $1.08 trillion of this is in the form of $100 bills…that works out to 34 hundreds in circulation for every man, woman, and child in the United States — even though a normal American rarely carries even one…No one knows exactly who has all those large bills because physical cash, by its nature, is hard to track…consequently most C-notes are used for a variety of illicit purposes — tax evasion, drug dealing, bribery, and so forth — both in the United States and overseas.  Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff believes that the solution is to get rid of cash.  In a new book, he argues that abolishing $100, $50, and perhaps even $20 bills will seriously inhibit crime and tax evasion while doing little to hamper legitimate commerce…

Note that the buying power of a $100 bill today is less than that of a $5 bill in 1900.  In Rogoff’s totalitarian fantasy, the government would have total control of virtually all commerce; sex workers and others in the irregular economy would be forced to deal in barter, cryptocurrency or the currencies of less-totalitarian states, which would make life a lot more difficult…presumably the outcome this bootlicker wants.

Gorged With Meaning

“British students are going to extraordinary lengths to fund their studies, including doing lucrative work”.  That’s how extraordinarily dumb this sounds to me:

British students are going to extraordinary lengths to fund their studies, including sex work and drug dealing, as the cost of university continues to rise…one in 10 undergraduates admitted to knowing someone who has turned to drug dealing to earn extra money, and as many as one in 20 said they knew someone who pays for their course by escorting.  Some 17 per cent of students said they considered stripping an acceptable way of funding university life, and one in 25 students surveyed said they were considering looking for a sugar daddy to support them financially…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

Deep self-deception about technology, pearl-clutching about sexuality and offensive ignorance about sex work, all under one roof!

…Goldsmith University in London…is where the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots is to be held this upcoming December.  The congress was supposed to be held in Malaysia on November 16 but was subsequently banned by the country as it deemed the whole premise as “too extreme”…The session will focus on humanoid robots, robot emotions and personalities, teledildonics (cybersex toys), intelligent electronic sex hardware, entertainment robots and more…Joel Snell…warns that engaging sex with a robot can be addicting…sex therapist Gurpreet Singh says…robots shouldn’t replace humans entirely…Dr. John Danaher believes that sex robots are an excellent replacement to human prostitutes…”They won’t need to ‘fake it’ the same way as human prostitutes.”

Imagination Pinned Down

This ridiculous fantasy is nauseating even by “sex trafficking” standards:

Rachel Pointer…[of] Omaha…[claim’s her neighbor’s] boyfriend raped [her when she was six and] then…started [pimping] her…It wasn’t always the same person selling her.  Pointer said after a few months someone else “took over that role”…It was surprisingly easy for this to happen without anyone noticing…The kids were homeschooled and there weren’t regular doctor appointments.  In other words, there were no outsiders to see what was happening.  The traffickers would tell Rachel to do things like fake an illness and go to bed early, then sneak out her second floor window and climb down a trellis to be sold for sex at night.  “Drugs and alcohol became part of the picture at a very young age, 7, 8, 9-years old,” she explained.  “Cocaine mostly and alcohol..enough to take the edge off and to keep me up and to keep me compliant…this was her life three, four, five times a week.  For 10 years…“When I got older, when I was a teenager, I started not being able to make as much.  I wasn’t as profitable”…The traffickers made one final threat of what would happen to Rachel and her family if she ever said anything, then it was over.  She never heard from them again.  There was no investigation, no charges, no punishment for the men who sold her and those who bought her…

As usual, there are no names and no evidence, and it’s all set conveniently decades in the past.  And nobody bothers to question the blatant, ugly and totally-bizarre lie that there are more adult men who would be interested in fucking a six-year-old than a 16-year-old, nor the absurd premise that nobody would notice a schoolkid was constantly drunk or hopped up on coke.

Whatever They Need To Say (#350)

Three years later, another massive pogrom in Soho, troublingly timed to coincide with similar pogroms all over the world:

Late…on the evening of Thursday, 20 October, [cops with]…sniffer dogs raided six massage parlours in Chinatown and Soho, when their cash registers were full with most of a day’s takings.  Women…were dragged out onto the streets past midnight, before 12 were detained and removed for immigration offences, with a further 6 arrests of maids and other staff members…The Met [pretends]…that the “aim of the operation is to identify, safeguard and remove victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and modern slavery offences”…[reporters repeated the propaganda that the arrested] women had been “rescued”…The use of sniffer dogs highlights the absurdity of the Met’s claims to deploy their raids, in the middle of the night, for the protection of women.  Can a sniffer dog tell us if a massage parlour is “utilising trafficked women”?  Can a sniffer dog say if a sex worker is being paid fairly for work, in decent conditions?  No.  In fact, all a sniffer dog can do is to intimidate women and provide evidence for laying charges, which was, of course, the Met’s primary aim all along…The police also saw fit to take away tens of thousands of pounds from workers at the end of a day of seeing clients…

See also “Between the Lines” below.

Little Boxes (#419)

There’s a shorter phrase for “those who believe a woman’s virginity should only be shared for love”; it’s “prudish busybodies”:

At one of Nevada’s…legal brothels, a 20-year-old woman recently signed up…to sell…Her virginity.  Like the brothels themselves, Stone’s choice has been controversial, particularly for those who believe a woman’s virginity should only be shared for love…In 2014, Stone’s family home in Seattle…was destroyed by a fire.  Without insurance, Stone and her family found themselves forced to remain in the scorched property…Brothel tycoon Dennis Hof…agreed to sell Stone’s one-time service…[for] a 50% cut from the profits of the final bid…”People say you are suppose to do it for love,” Stone says…”But…I am doing it because I love my family”…At the moment…[the high]  bid is a little over $400,000…While she waits, Stone is…”contracted by Dennis Hof to legally provide services to gentlemen who are seeking experiences” other than intercourse, she says…Even after her virginity is auctioned, Stone says she has no intentions of leaving the ranch. “I anticipate to continue working at the ranch for the next five years,” she says. “I plan to go to law school in the future”…

Under decriminalization, she could’ve stayed here in Seattle; the sex worker community here, including me, would’ve helped her to arrange this and supported her emotionally through the experience without even taking a cut.

Between the Lines

In a very troubling development, the FBI’s “Operation Cross-Country” appears to be spreading to other countries; a few of the articles on the annual pogrom mentioned international operations, and this confirms that:

An impressive…28 countries teamed up with Europol to deliver a major blow to organised crime groups involved in trafficking in human beings across the European Union and beyond.  During the operational activities of the EU-wide Joint Action Day (JAD) named  Ciconia Alba, one part of the intelligence-led police actions and controls focussed explicitly on [sex workers]…11,161 locations…were [raided]…43,405 persons were [harassed, questioned & detained]…and 549 [sex workers were labeled] potential victims…Data gathered during the operations led to the launch of 102 new investigations…Fourteen underage victims were reported.  Overall fifty-two countries and four international organisations were involved…

Yes, over forty-three thousand people were subjected to police violence, all to discover 14 underage sex workers, of whom statistically all but one or two were working of their own choice.  In other words, the operation had a “success rate” of roughly 0.003%.

To Molest and Rape 

More brave heroes from Washington state, “saving” women:

In a matter of six months in 2014, three Colville [cops] either resigned or were fired.  Two…were accused of sexual misconduct…the third, Rex Newport, pleaded guilty to felony sex crimes…That’s 30 percent of the department — three of 10…in a city of less than 5,000 people…Newport…took a plea deal and served time in prison.  He must register as a sex offender and can no longer work as a cop in Washington state…Jeffry Finer…and…Richard Wall filed a civil lawsuit at the beginning of 2015 and recently agreed to a $230,000 settlement for their clients…[the] attorneys…found that [cops] were routinely unsupervised and allegations of sexual misconduct…were not thoroughly investigated, which…perpetuated a culture of such misconduct…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#663) 

“Sex addiction” is now being used as a defense even for violent sex offenders:

A young man who tackled a heavily pregnant woman off her bike and tried to rape her was addicted to pornography and had violent sexual dreams in the lead-up to the attack…Casey Tennent said he “couldn’t help it” and rambled “I imagined doing it and then dreamt about it, and then did it tonight” when he was arrested after the assault in Melbourne…Tennent was chased off by three men…who were able to surround him, take him down and restrain him in a laneway until police arrived…

Of Course It Is

While Oakland appears to be starting a purification campaign to get rid of cops who deal honestly with whores instead of raping us, Celeste Guap fired her prohibitionist attorney for, apparently, refusing to stop spewing anti-whore bullshit at her (in fact, she didn’t even stop after she was fired).  Fortunately, a competent and less-judgmental defense attorney immediately took her place on the legal team.

Send In the Clowns 

While Canadian “authorities” are so far content to “suggest people do not dress up as clowns and walk around with what is going on,” threatening them with unspecified criminal charges, those in Mississippi have gone totally (and unconstitutionally) ape shit:

A Mississippi county has declared it illegal to dress like a clown, and is threatening to levy $150 fines against anyone caught in a clown costume.  The Kemper County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously [last] Wednesday to implement the ban, which expires the day after Halloween.  It makes it unlawful for anyone of any age to appear in public in a clown costume, clown mask or clown makeup…the measure was passed at the request of Kemper County Sheriff James Moore…

Read Full Post »

To legislate against the moral codes of one’s fellows…is to steal their moral codes, to suppress their characters.  –  R.M. MacIver

Three forays into the bizarre world inhabited by lawheads, and a little good news.

Imaginary Lines (July 7th, 2011)

As this article Grace showed me demonstrates, it’s not only people whom the government subjects to arcane and complex border-crossing regulations, then treats as violent criminals if the paperwork is improperly filled out:

A…supplier of guitar-making parts is ensnared in an international smuggling investigation after federal authorities seized 24 pallets of exotic wood…Luthiers Mercantile International, or LMI, imported the $200,000-worth of Indian rosewood and ebony to sell to Gibson…On Aug. 24, federal agents descended on a Nashville, Tenn., warehouse where LMI’s wood was waiting for Gibson to take possession.  They seized the wood along with Gibson computer hard drives and guitars.  [Federal officials claim] the wood was “unlawfully imported, purchased and received”…[but] LMI officials say minor paperwork mistakes by their import broker on a separate wood shipment led to the raid…Though LMI has imported rosewood from India for decades, the U.S. government is now saying that Indian rosewood fingerboards are an illegal export…

Many of Sonoma County’s estimated 100 luthiers, who depend on tropical exotic hardwoods that have particular resonant qualities, say their futures are at stake…[Tom] Ribbecke, whose guitars are displayed in the Smithsonian Museum…fears that if authorities decide some of [his stock] is illegal, they will take it.  “The Lacey Act…makes all of our material that all of us have been saving and setting aside for our retirement illegal for us to own,” he said…Since 2008, the Lacey Act has made it illegal to bring wood into the United States that was exported illegally from a country of origin…but under World Trade Organization laws…what is legal in one country can appear illegal in another, based on differences in national tariff codes…

In other words, the government is fighting evil wood traffickers, working to rescue innocent boards from being enslaved in guitars, where they are sold to satisfy the sick desires of music lovers.  Don’t you feel safer now?

J’accuse (July 21st, 2011)

As I said in my column of October 23rd, most politicians hire whores at least occasionally, therefore reports that any individual politician hired a whore do not constitute news.  But this October 17th New York Post story on the continuing Dominique Strauss-Kahn hijinks has other features of interest, so I’ve edited it to remove colorful Post inanities like “bootyguard” and “serial sleazeball”:

A top French cop served as [Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s] personal pimp, organizing orgies for him in both France and New York…The new allegations came to light during an investigation into a ring of prostitutes that included underage teens…Sources…[said] that…DSK is among a group of politicians, lawyers and business leaders whose names were found in the ring’s “black book’’ of clients.  The French cop, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, also allegedly escorted ladies of the evening all the way from the French city of Lille, where the ring was headquartered, to New York for DSK.  Strauss-Kahn’s personal prostitutes were allegedly selected for him by a…procurer named Dominique “Dodo’’ Alderweireld, who…has since been arrested.  Lawyer Frederique Beaulieu says Strauss-Kahn “is asking to be questioned to put an end to these insinuations and extrapolations”…but has not yet been contacted by police…Five men…have been arrested in France and charged with pimping…

Welcome to the Wonderland of legalization.  Prostitution is legal in France, but “procuring, aiding or assisting” prostitutes is illegal, as is “living on the avails”.  In other words, it’s OK to be a whore as long as you have no friends, family, employees, assistants, managers or other human contact other than customers.  As soon as you move in with someone, tour with another girl, or pay someone to arrange travel or book appointments for you, your legal business is instantly transformed into a “ring”, your private affairs are a matter for police “investigation” and you are buried under an avalanche of dysphemisms.

Presumption of Guilt (July 29th, 2011)

How many of y’all enjoy shopping at used book or music stores, flea markets and the like?  I sure do.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that every time you walk into such a place you might be surrounded by criminals so dangerous that, according to the Louisiana legislature, the need to catch them justifies outlawing an activity which is literally as old as civilization:

This summer…Louisiana passed a law that bans individuals and businesses from transacting in cash if they are considered a “secondhand dealer”…[which is defined as] “…Anyone, other than a non-profit entity, who buys, sells, trades in or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property more frequently than once per month from any other person, other than a non-profit entity…”  The law then states that “A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property.  Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property…”  The broad scope of this definition can essentially encompass everyone; from your local flea market vendors and buyers to a housewife purchasing goods on ebay or craigslist, to a group of guys trading baseball cards…Louisiana [has] effectively banned its citizens from freely using United States legal tender.

The law goes further to require secondhand dealers to turn over…their business’ proprietary client information.  For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller’s personal information such as their name, address, driver’s license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered.  They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports.  If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction…individuals and businesses are [thus] forced to report routine business activity to the police.  Can law enforcement not accomplish its goal of identifying potential thieves and locating stolen items in a far less intrusive manner?  And of course, there are already laws that prohibit stealing, buying or selling stolen goods, laws that require businesses to account for transactions and laws that penalize individuals and businesses that transact in stolen property.  Why does…Louisiana…need…more laws infringing on personal privacy, liberties and freedom?…Interestingly enough, although Pawnshops are still required to obtain clients’ personal information and transmit their client database information to law enforcement, they are exempt from the restriction of cash payments.  A jeweler next door to a pawnshop cannot offer clients the same payment method offered by its competing pawnshop neighbor…

The excuse used to justify this blatant tax grab and surveillance method was a recent increase in copper robberies.  The pillage of cables for their copper always increases during periods of high metal prices and/or high unemployment, but somehow government has always managed to deal with it before without requiring merchants to record the license plate numbers of little old ladies trading in romance novels or university students selling CDs they’re tired of.  But that’s because we used to have this thing called “presumption of innocence”; well, it was nice while it lasted.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

My column of one year ago today discussed examples of the way that public opinion is slowly changing in our favor, and here’s a new one; on August 20th the 60-year-old Society for the Study of Social Problems adopted a resolution stating that it supports decriminalization:

WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work negotiated between consenting adults perpetuates violence and social stigma against sex workers, including by law enforcement…WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work denies sex workers basic human and civil rights, including healthcare and housing, extended to workers in other trades, occupations, callings, or professions; WHEREAS the decriminalization of prostitution would lead to safer working conditions and better health for both the worker and client, and allow workers to report nonconsensual activities to law enforcement without fear of being arrested…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SSSP supports:  (1) bipartisan legislation to decriminalize prostitution (2) public education regarding the costs of policing sex workers and (3) normalization of the occupation.

You can read the full text at the link; it was written by Jenny Heineman, co-coordinator of SWOP Las Vegas, which was also honored by the SSSP at a banquet.  This is a small change, but it has to start somewhere; the ACLU is pro-decriminalization as well (though they rarely say anything about it), and every professional organization we can win to the cause gives us that much more credibility in the eyes of the public and politicians.

Read Full Post »

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.  –  Edmund Burke

The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is a very ancient one; traces of it appear in the Book of Deuteronomy, and some scholars have written that it can be found in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes.  It is clearly stated many, many times in Roman law, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision Coffin vs. United States quotes this episode of a trial before the Emperor Julian:

Numerius, the governor of Narbonensis, was on trial [for embezzlement] before the Emperor, and, contrary to the usage in criminal cases, the trial was public.  Numerius contented himself with denying his guilt, and there was not sufficient proof against him.  His adversary, Delphidius, “a passionate man,” seeing that the failure of the accusation was inevitable, could not restrain himself, and exclaimed, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?” to which Julian replied, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The Emperor Julian

The principle was first clearly codified in post-Roman law by Cardinal Lemoine in the 13th century using the Latin phrase, Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies”) and it is one of the pillars of English common law and through it, American law; it appears in the majority of law codes in the Western world.  But now this 3000-year-old principle is under assault in the United States, and for what?  So that the government can force every single adult with internet access (even those without children) to prove he (or she) hasn’t been looking at dirty pictures, just in case a child should wander into his house, accidentally call up a picture of a nipple and thereby cause his brain to explode due to rapid-onset “premature sexualization”.  Take a look at this July 12th article from Reason:

Have you heard about The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011?  It’s the latest in a l-o-n-g line of just terrible bills proposed to calm (though never quite eliminate) the fears of middle-aged people about what that scary Internet might potentially do to Our Children…Cato’s Jim Harper…[wrote], “This isn’t a bill about child predation.  It’s a bald-faced attack on privacy and limited government.”

Meanwhile, former Reasoner Julian Sanchez (also of Cato) muses  that “I guess the ‘You Are All Criminals Act’ didn’t have the same ring,” and provides some context:

Thanks to an unwise Supreme Court decision dating from the 70s, information about your private activities loses its Fourth Amendment protection when it’s held by a “third party” corporation, like a phone company or Internet provider.  As many legal scholars have noted, however, this allows constitutional privacy safeguards to be circumvented via a clever two-step process.  Step one:  The government forces private businesses (ideally the kind a citizen in the modern world can’t easily avoid dealing with) to collect and store certain kinds of information about everyone—anyone might turn out to be a criminal, after all.  No Fourth Amendment issue there, because it’s not the government gathering it!  Step two:  The government gets a subpoena or court order to obtain that information, quite possibly without your knowledge.  No Fourth Amendment problem here either, according to the Supreme Court, because now they’re just getting a corporation’s business records, not your private records.  It makes no difference that they’re only keeping those records because the government said they had to.  Current law already allows law enforcement to require retention of data about specific suspects—including e-mails and other information as well as IP addresses—to ensure that evidence isn’t erased while they build up enough evidence for a court order.  But why spearfish when you can lower a dragnet?  Blanket data requirements ensure easy access to a year-and-a-half snapshot of the online activities of millions of Americans—every one a potential criminal…

You can’t even say you weren’t warned; have you ever taken the time to read one of those “privacy notices” everyone sends out nowadays?  If you had, you would’ve discovered that it would be more appropriate to call them “lack of privacy notices”.  The nutshell version:  “We won’t give any information about you to anyone you actually want to have it, not even your spouse, but if anyone with an official title whom you absolutely don’t want to have that information so much as hints that he wants it, we’ll stick our arses in the air faster than you can say ‘Judas’ and give him everything he wants and more.”  And if the “You Are All Criminals Act” is passed, the amount of information they can turn over about you – without your knowledge, consent or a proper warrant – will be dramatically increased.

Ah, well, that whole “presumption of innocence” thing was hopelessly old-fashioned anyway; how could any of those ignorant ancients possibly understand anything about sex and pornography and children and stuff?

One Year Ago Today

The second part of “Genesis of a Harlot”, the story of how a good little Catholic girl from south Louisiana turned into a whore.

Read Full Post »