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Posts Tagged ‘Prohibition (alcohol)’

This tweet from a government agency is not only blatantly false, it’s not even good propaganda.  Fentanyl is not only “safe for human consumption”, it’s a powerful pain reliever used in hospitals all over the world.  The only reason simpletons (such as those who work for NIDA) believe it’s “bad” or “unsafe” is because due to the war on drugs, it has become harder to get prescription opiates; heroin and other opiates are therefore cut with fillers to extend them and their potency is kicked back up by adding fentanyl, which is easier to smuggle because it’s so concentrated.  Of course, because it is so concentrated, even a small error in dosage can be catastrophic.  This is not only 100% predictable, it’s so inevitable a consequence it is called the Iron Law of Prohibition.

“Molly” is slang for MDMA, a drug that is not only non-addictive but far safer than alcohol; indeed it is one of the safest drugs known.  Its healing properties are obvious to anyone who has ever used it (including yours truly) and to the many researchers who have studied it as a therapy for PTSD; indeed, even the notoriously tight-arsed US FDA has approved more clinical trials and could approve it for general use in about two more years.  So why the bad reputation among the ignorant?  See the previous paragraph.  Most of what is sold as “ecstasy” contains very little MDMA, mostly consisting of methamphetamine and the usual filler garbage.  It has such a bad reputation, in fact, that a new term arose to identify comparatively-pure preparations of the drug.  And what’s NIDA’s excuse for claiming otherwise?  The FDA hasn’t finished casting the magic Spell of Approval yet, which will no doubt make it as safe as legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco (as long as one has the magic Scroll of Prescription on hand, of course).

K2, “spice” and similar drugs are synthetic cannabinoids sold as “legal highs” in places where cannabis, the safest recreational drug known to mankind, is banned.  Naturally these drugs are more dangerous than the real thing, because every drug is; however, they’re also far more dangerous than other banned recreational drugs such as MDMA and LSD.  So why does anyone use them?  Because they can’t get cannabis, of course.  Simply put, most drugs aren’t “unsafe for human consumption” when properly-prepared doses are used responsibly; prohibition, however, has been repeatedly proven to be unsafe to humans in any form.

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I thought, how nice for him…to take care of my little girl.  –  Nancy Wells

Bad Girls 

Really, guys, just hire actual pros; it’s much cheaper in the long run:

An FBI counterterrorism supervisor had his gun and pricey watch stolen by an “exotic dancer” after a boozy night at a North Carolina hotel…Robert Manson…awoke the next day to find she’d swiped his Glock .40-caliber handgun, Rolex and about $60 in cash…Last month, a woman stole a $37,000 watch from a man she’d just met at a swanky eatery.  Over the summer, two women stole $80,000 worth of timepieces from several saps who invited them back to their luxury hotel rooms…two women [stole] an elderly…man[‘s]…watch and $3,000 in cash after meeting him at a cigar bar…in August, a Saudi diplomat was robbed of a $30,000 Gerald Genta-designed watch, a $12,000 Rolex and $2,500 in cash after hooking up with a woman he met at celebrity hot spot 1Oak…

The Punitive Mindset 

One would think defense attorneys of all people would have more sense than to imagine the purpose of cops is to “protect” anybody:

A half-dozen employees of the Cook County Public Defender’s office have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, claiming county officials have done nothing to protect them from inmates who masturbate in front of them during visits to the jail and courtroom holding cells…Public Defender Amy Campanelli’s deputy, Lester Finkle, said in a statement that the office had been working with…sheriff [Tom Dart] and judges to come up with a solution for two years…Campanelli has said she wants extra [cops] on hand in courtroom lockups, a solution Dart has said costs him $40,000 per week in overtime.  Dart, also named in the lawsuit, [wants to lock the prisoners up for even longer instead]…

Arch-sleazebag Tom Dart, whom you may remember as Swanee Hunt’s crony, is intentionally perpetuating a situation which will make it harder to people in his filthy cages to get legal representation, while simultaneously calling for worsening the conditions that are causing the problem.  Anybody else smell a rat?

Under Duress

Even on the rare occasion when cops want to tell the truth, their superiors may force them to lie:

Massachusetts State Trooper Ryan Sceviour is suing his superiors…[after] they ordered him to alter a police report involving the daughter of a judge in a DUI and drug incident.  The state police are…arguing the order to change the report was appropriate.  Sceviour arrived at the scene of a crash Oct. 16…Behind the wheel he…found Alli Bibaud, daughter of [drug court judge] Timothy Bibaud…reeking of alcohol with a “heroin kit” in the car…Bibaud told him she had traded sex for drugs and…offered to have sex with Sceviour for more lenient treatment…two days later [Sceviour]…was ordered to alter his police report….[and] reprimanded for including Bibaud’s statements in his report…It’s not hard to imagine how neglecting to report an offer of sex for leniency could backfire [on a cop].  More importantly, the lack of any effort to ensure that “sensationalistic and inflammatory” statements by other suspects don’t appear in police reports suggests the state police was more interested in protecting Bibaud’s father than the privacy of all people arrested by state police…

Buried Truth 

Man who pontificates about “Christian morality” and thinks homosexuality should be a crime has a thing for underage girls.  Gee, what a surprise:

Leigh Corfman…was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala…It was early 1979 and [Roy] Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.  He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing…Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number…days later…he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her.  On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes.  He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear…Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.  Two of Corfman’s childhood friends say she told them at the time that she was seeing an older man, and one says Corfman identified the man as Moore…three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s…None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of…sexual contact…

Drawing Lines 

Nope, this isn’t sex work, no sirree:

You want your lonely child to, say, have a “father”.  Or maybe you just want to go out on some dates with someone nice, someone safe…you want someone to care, or at least act like they do.  You think it would be easier — cleaner — to pay someone than to…find someone [to perform that emotional labor for free]…So, you go online and hire someone like Ishii Yuichi, owner of Family Romance in Japan, to play that role…The Atlantic interviewed Yuichi who shares what it’s like to be that for-hire “loved one”…

A Moral Cancer (#566)

The crypto-moralists have been relatively quiet for a while:

…the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)…estimat[es] “3.5 percent of all cancer deaths are attributable to drinking alcohol” in the United States…In comparison, smoking tobacco is estimated to cause 32 percent of all cancer deaths…The group treats consuming alcohol as a pure public health problem to which the only solutions are various forms of prohibition.  They recommend regulating alcohol outlet density; increasing alcohol taxes and prices; maintaining limits on days and hours of sale…and resisting further privatization of retail alcohol sales in communities with current government control…

The Public Morals

Though I’m always happy to see cops imprisoned, it’s disturbing that this guy faces a longer sentence for texting than others face for rape, mayhem and murder:

Basil O’Kimosh, a [Menominee Tribal] cop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, faces federal charges for exchanging sexually explicit Snapchat messages with a teenage girl he met on Facebook.  If convicted…he…faces 25 years to life in prison…While it’s refreshing to see a cop get held accountable for a change, calling O’Kimosh a threat to community safety seems a bit melodramatic.  No adult…should be sexting with a teenager…but considering the kinds of things that cops in this country frequently get away with—murder, sexual assault, physical abuse, actual sex with minors—the severe concern in this case rings…a bit hollow.  The feds didn’t step in, for instance, when dozens of cops were under investigation for sexting and having sex with an underage girl in Oakland, California.  Or when a Chicago cop was arrested for trafficking a 14-year-old.  Or in the recent case of a Bronx officer arrested for paying to make sex tapes with a minor…but U.S. prosecutors have been big lately on exercising jurisdiction over both social media and sexting, and…this helps suggest the decision to make this a federal matter is based more on opportunism and political agendas than the severity of O’Kimosh’s crime or his threat to the public…

The Eye of the Beholder (#672)

Given that there is no possibility of a child, what exactly is the rationale behind destroying two lives, other than “The ‘authorities’ find this skeevy” or “The law is the law”?

A[n Oklahoma] woman who married her biological mother last year received a 10-year deferred sentence [plus two years of probation] after pleading guilty…to committing incest…Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 26, was set for a bench trial…but instead pleaded guilty to illegally marrying 44-year-old Patricia Ann Spann, who is identified as Patricia Ann Clayton on their marriage license application…Patricia Span also was once married to her biological son…[she] is also charged with incest [and] is to appear in court in January…

The Sky is Falling! (#779) 

Young women using their natural gifts to graduate without debt is “disgusting”; giving free sex to boorish, penniless young men is “feminism”:

A shameless dating site is encouraging young female students to date older rich “sugar daddies” so they can pay off their student loan…s and earn them some extra pocket money and life experience…A total of five [miniature mobile] billboards are doing a tour of universities in an aim to get 100,000 British students to sign up by the end of the year…A…student, who asked not be named, said: “It’s disgusting. It should be illegal for these perverts to pray [sic] on youngsters like this [because we’re the emotional equivalent of toddlers and have no agency]…me and my friends would never turn to prostitution…it’s exploitative and wrong”…

Soap Opera (#788) 

Reading cops’ masturbatory fantasies of omnipresent “pimps” with magic powers is by turns hilarious and disgusting:

…[Wanking pig Curt Chastain fantasized] “I’ve had (sex trafficking) victims from every high school in Fresno County – and most junior high schools”…Arresting [consenting adults]…is…part of [the fantasy Chastain uses when doing what he calls]…choking…the…snake…“I’d bet every 16-year-old girl in Fresno has received a message that they didn’t know was from a recruiter…They’re recruited while sitting next to their parents in the living room”…As he drives from place to place during the undercover operation, the detective shares his [masturbatory fantasies about] the modern sex trade…

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There are two futures, the future of desire and the future of fate, and man’s reason has never learned to separate them.  –  John Desmond Bernal

Some astute readers have pointed out that it sometimes seems as though I’m contradicting myself when talking about the future.  On the one hand, I am optimistic that sex work will eventually be decriminalized, that prohibition as a concept will be tossed onto the ash-heap of history, and that future historians will look back at our ugly, warped, fear-haunted culture with wonder and pity.  On the other hand, I say that the United States is a decaying fascist empire which has already passed the point at which future historians will declare it a different entity than the American republic which came before, just as they consider the Byzantine Empire a separate entity from the Roman even though the Byzantine rulers themselves made no such distinction.  But these two points aren’t contradictory at all; I think the confusion derives from a kind of chauvinism which can’t conceive of a future in which the US either does not exist or doesn’t play a major role.  But that’s not realistic, and I certainly don’t imagine the world that way; quite the opposite, in fact.  I not only recognize that the US, like every single country which has preceded it since the invention of the nation-state and every single one which will follow it until that concept is itself tossed onto the aforementioned historical ash-heap, is mortal and will one day die; my optimistic predictions are predicated upon it.

I am an American, and I love the ideas that the American government was founded upon:  minimal government, individual liberty and justice for all.  But those ideas were neither understood nor believed nor practiced by the vast majority of Americans even at the time when the Constitution was drawn up; even the Founders themselves, the men who codified those concepts and built institutions upon them, made plenty of exceptions, compromises and caveats to their high-sounding principles (chief among which was tolerance of the odious notion that one human being could own another).  And as time marched on and successive generations inherited the machinery of government, the safeguards installed by the Founders were undermined, abrogated, annulled, ignored and repealed to make way for laws and practices based upon the real beliefs of the majority of Americans: fear, hate, superstition, intolerance, greed, violence, control-freakishness, lust for power and, above all, prudishness.  The intersection of all of these vile principles is the crowning achievement of the warped American mind:  Prohibition, the deranged belief that some ruling elite has the right and duty to decide what’s best for everyone else, to ban everything that the elite decides is “bad”, and to dispatch an army of violent thugs to enforce those prohibitions by any means necessary, including (but not limited to) mass surveillance, witch hunts, perjury, robbery, rape, mayhem, murder and mass enslavement.  The last, at least, was predictable; if even the men who so fervently believed in liberty for all that they founded a country on it were unable to let go of slavery, how could their barbaric inheritors be expected to?

I’m sure some of you will object that legal prohibitions have existed since the beginning of civilization, and you’d be right; however, isolated bans on this or that are no more equivalent to capital-P Prohibition as it exists in the United States, than isolated murders are equivalent to War.  The idea that vast social resources should be devoted to warring upon the country’s own citizenry in order to stop them from consensual activities that the rulers disapprove of is a distinctly American form of collective madness, and the powerful influence American culture has exerted on the world for the past century (since the advent of mass media & American domination of same) is the only reason it has become at all prevalent in the rest of the world.  After the United States dies, the evil of prohibition will (albeit gradually) follow it into Hell.  The United States is but the latest in a long succession of great Western empires, each descending from the one before; it was originally a colony of Great Britain, which was in earlier times a province of the Roman Empire, which borrowed much of its culture from Greece, which previously conquered Persia, which rose to prominence after destroying Assyria, which had generations before conquered Babylonia, which had ruled over the cities that once made up Sumer.ruins of Washington  The next inheritor of this legacy probably already exists in one form or another; it will be up to that people to take the next step in the evolution of human civilization.  And when they do, they will admire America for the ways in which she was great, and criticize her for the ways in which she was awful, just as Americans do the civilizations which came before her.  And tourists from that future nation will one day visit the ruins of the great American cities, fascinated by the quaint customs of the locals, and enjoying the immense buying power their healthy currency has in the economically-devastated remnant of what was once the greatest power on Earth.

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First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  –  Mahatma Gandhi

NY Times magazine cover 5-8-16One of the points I cover in every basic presentation I give on sex worker rights is that criminalization is a very recent idea.  Invariably, most of the audience is surprised; having been reared in a culture soaked in anti-whore propaganda, they take it for granted that “naturally” we’ve always been persecuted, because victimization and “pimps” and disease and THE CHILDREN!  But of course, this is nonsense; though many cultures have come up with laws intended to restrict or “regulate” whoring, the idea that it was an evil which needed to be eradicated by state violence is a 19th-century one, rooted in racism and “progressive” Victorian thought about “correcting” the human race by using law to enforce a Puritanical agenda.  Prohibition of sex work sprang from the same filthy, poisonous soil as did eugenics, anti-masturbation torture devices and the prohibition of alcohol and drugs.  But while the former two ideas are widely recognized as dangerous nonsense and the latter is slowly dying, the use of armed thugs to commit pogroms against peaceful adults because authoritarians don’t like their reasons for having sex is still going strong.  That, however, cannot endure indefinitely; the internet has made it impossible to silence the voices of sex workers any longer, and study after study has concluded that we are correct when we say that criminalization is an evil which harms not only whores and our clients, but our families, friends and associates.

Furthermore, as we should have learned from the obscenity of alcohol Prohibition, the only way to stop adults from engaging in consensual behavior is to empower the cops to spy on people, violate their civil rights and destroy their lives.  Not that this actually stops the prohibited behaviors, mind you; no campaign of prohibition in history has ever worked.  But prohibitionist laws allow the state to terrorize the population and “send a message” that free thought is forbidden, and that the almighty State is the arbiter of right and wrong.  As should be obvious from the glacially-slow process of stopping the Drug War that every decent person in the world recognizes as an abject failure, modern fascist states like the US are heavily invested in the violent enforcement of arbitrary bans on peaceful, consensual behaviors.  Cronies have become fabulously wealthy via deals with prohibitionist governments, the machinery of the police state needs bodies to be fed into it, and those whose power derives from mindless obedience to nonsensical rules are not about to let go of such power without a fight.

But if history teaches us anything, it’s that respect for individual human rights is increasing; the majority of people no longer feel morally comfortable with the subjugation of minorities and the violent suppression of private behavior.  That’s why over a decade ago prohibitionists changed over to the “sex trafficking” paradigm, and why their rhetoric largely consists of the repetition of tragedy porn and the assertion of the ridiculous idea that every sex worker who speaks in public is lying, and that there is some invisible multitude of “victims” out there who will be magically helped by taking away their income and subjugating them to the control of gangs of violent rapists.  The problem with this sort of strategy is that it can’t be sustained forever; moral panics die, and the scales fall from people’s eyes, and both individuals and institutions wake up to the truth.  A few years ago the wind started to shift in favor of sex workers’ rights again; many more individuals began to question criminalization, and then last year we passed the watershed moment when Amnesty International officially espoused decriminalization as a policy, and the federal government’s ill-considered raid on Rentboy brought Gay, Inc grudgingly over to our side.  Make no mistake, the prohibitionists are terrified; they feel their grip on the narrative slipping, and they know they will lose it just as they lost other fights against the principles of self-ownership and sexual self-determination.  If you read some of the prohibitionist reaction to last week’s New York Times Magazine piece, you can practically smell that fear.  They’re losing, and they know it.  They’re going to double down on their efforts, and the number of pogroms will increase in order to “teach us our place”.  And that just means we need to hold the course all the more.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on November 16th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Salvation Army womenEvery time one reads an article that doesn’t mindlessly parrot “sex trafficking” hysteria or some other aspect of the anti-sex movement, yet isn’t written by a sex worker or ally, one can be sure there will be an obligatory sentence about how it’s “surprising” or “paradoxical” or whatever that neofeminists are in bed with evangelical Christians.  The only people who could actually consider this alliance to be anything other than wholly predictable are those who A) believe in the ridiculous “left wing-right wing” dichotomy which “was a poor fit to real political landscapes when it was first used in reference to the French Assembly more than 200 years ago and has become completely worthless since”; B) accept fanatical cults’ propaganda about their motives as truthful even if it demonstrably conflicts with their public behavior; and C) are completely ignorant of the history of the Anglo-American anti-sex movement.  My early essay “Traitors To Their Sex”  provides a brief sketch of this history, starting with the influential and charismatic Victorian feminist, Josephine Butler:

…who recognized that English law of the time…stripped prostitutes of their rights as Englishwomen and so campaigned tirelessly for the repeal of those laws for 16 years.  At the same time, Butler (like most Victorians) believed that women were essentially asexual, and so could not accept that any woman might freely choose to exploit the male sexual appetite in order to earn a living; the very idea was anathema to her rigid Christian thinking.  She therefore concluded that it was actually whores who were the exploited ones, childlike victims of male lust who had been forced into lives of “degradation” by male oppression…after the repeal of the Contagious Disease Acts in 1886 prostitutes were no longer the cause célèbre; when they refused to repent their whoredom and embrace “honest work” and conventional morality the feminists abandoned their sympathy like yesterday’s newspaper and declared war on our entire profession, vowing to abolish it entirely.  Butler founded the Social Purity Alliance…dedicated to imposing middle-class Victorian standards of chastity (i.e. repugnance for sex) onto men, and it was but the first of a host of similar organizations which sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1880s and ‘90s…middle-class “feminists” had shown their true colors and abandoned the drive to win rights for the disenfranchised in favor of one which aimed to restrict the rights of everyone…The purity crusaders used many propaganda weapons…but chief among these were disease scares and the “white slavery” hysteria…the unholy alliance of middle-class feminists and puritanical religious zealots managed to convince the public, the media and governments that there was a huge international trade in underage girls, abducted and forced into sexual slavery…The fact that there was absolutely no evidence for such a vast conspiracy made no difference whatsoever; the public devoured lurid stories of child prostitution, and…voluntary adult prostitution was banned or severely restricted under the excuse of combating involuntary prostitution of “children”…

In other words, though some early feminists (such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges) were individualists who were not at all anti-sex, feminism did not become a popular movement until it embraced a rigid, puritanical morality.  These “first wave” feminists were not merely anti-prostitution, but anti-pleasure; among other things, they campaigned against the “evil” of masturbation and drove the movement which eventually imposed Prohibition on the United States.  So although this early feminism died out in the Great Depression, it is wholly unsurprising that its legacy soon infected the “second wave” which flourished in the 1960s and ‘70s; by the mid-‘80s the anti-sex forces had not only taken over feminism, but had sought out and once again joined their old allies, evangelical Christians, in another loathsome attempt to impose a puritanical anti-sex regime on all of society.  Almost exactly a century after the first iteration of their social engineering crusade, they’ve brought back most of their old rhetoric (now blended with another morally-bankrupt 19th-century belief system, Marxism) and many of their old tactics, including “white slavery” hysteria (now called “sex trafficking”).

This is what a feminist's victim looks likeAs I’ve pointed out before, much of the language in “sex trafficking” and other anti-sex articles and essays is positively Victorian, and even when it isn’t the attitudes are.  Women like Julie Bindel and Meghan Murphy, who would almost certainly take exception with (or even ridicule) the notion that their attitudes fit more in the late 19th century than the early 21st, nonetheless expend considerable effort in arguing for massive censorship campaigns (even though they deny it) and trying to convince other women that only feminist thought leaders have the right to determine which kinds of sex constitute “rape” or “exploitation”, and that their individual consent is immaterial (the result of “false consciousness”, itself a 19th-century Marxist concept).  The “end demand” campaign backed by the Fawcett Society (itself founded in 1866) is based in the tired old Victorian conceit that men can be “taught” to dislike sex as much as prudish women do; furthermore, the recent revelation that the £45 “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts hawked by the Society are made in Dickensian sweatshops reveals that middle-class white women’s trivial concerns still trump the serious problems of working-class and brown-skinned women, just as they did in the days when the sun never set on the Empire.  And I think we can all agree that the mind which can produce over 3100 words on whether porn can be “ethical” or “feminist” is one which could’ve been perfectly delighted with thinking up new venereal nouns or arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  So no, it isn’t at all surprising that evangelical feminists conspire with evangelical Christians to make normal people’s lives as miserable as possible; they’ve been doing it for as long as there’s been such a thing as “feminism”.

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Every December, I present a different kind of story; they’re usually light, and some contain puzzles.  This one certainly isn’t light, but it’s…well, you’ll see.  It also contains a number of in-jokes and veiled references, and partakes of the ancient holiday custom of reversal:  it treats as serious a topic I spend considerable time ridiculing.  This really isn’t as odd as it may at first appear; one of the defining characteristics of myths and legends is that they are interesting (which is why people tell and retell them).  A dull myth would soon fade, and the human mind has a congenital preference for fascinating nonsense over dull fact…which, of course, explains the persistence of urban legends and moral panics no matter how often and thoroughly their elements are debunked.  And as generations of science fiction and fantasy writers have discovered, this makes stuff like Atlantis, ancient astronauts, the hollow Earth, etc wonderful subjects for stories, even if the author doesn’t actually believe a word of them.  Keep that in mind when you read this tale, which is intentionally ambiguous:  is what appears to be going on herein what is actually going on?  Does our protagonist have a highly overactive imagination?    Or is her antagonist just enjoying a cruel joke at her expense?

buildingThe doorman glowered at her as though he were the personification of the grim building itself, which had been the tallest one in town for over 30 years but was now humbled by the titans which had recently grown up around it.  Jane imagined it must be indignant at this development, and that its frowning façade was silently telling her, “Go away, you have no business here.”  But if she was going to make it as a reporter, she could let neither unfriendly employees nor gloomy old buildings stop her…and besides, her coat was really much too thin for this weather, and it had begun to snow; she went up to the door and tried to ignore the unpleasant expression on its keeper’s face.

Once within, she walked directly to the desk and announced that she was there to see Miss Morelli.  “Do you have an appointment?” asked the attendant, in a tone of voice that seemed to add “I know you don’t.”

“No, but please tell her Miss Louis from the Archdiocese is here to ask for her support in providing Christmas dinners for the poor.”  It was a terrible lie, but Margo Morelli was known to be even more generous with Catholic charities than her late father had been; Jane hoped it would be enough.

The attendant sighed, “You don’t have to talk to Miss Morelli herself about that; just see her personal assistant, Miss Angelo.  Go on up to the eleventh floor,” he said, gesturing toward the elevator with the phone receiver, “and I’ll let her know you’re on the way.”

“God bless you!” said Jane, feeling even more ashamed about her deception.  “Still,” she thought, “a girl has to eat, and jobs are scarce these days.  I’ll just have to go to confession this weekend.”  She involuntarily started at the ornate décor of the elevator doors, which seemed somehow menacing to her.  But she only paused for a moment; it was too late to turn back now, and there was only one more obstacle between her and the interview she wanted.  As she expected, the public elevator did not even go to the twelfth floor, so even if she had somehow been able to bribe the operator he could not have granted her request.  Correction:  she actually was going to the twelfth floor, though the number said eleven; the building was numbered in the European style, so that the first floor was the one above ground level.  But the Italians consider thirteen a lucky number, don’t they?  So it made sense that the boss’s office should be on that floor even if the number said twelve.

Miss Angelo turned out to be a tiny lady in late middle age with the hawk-like demeanor of a strict nun, and Jane felt her heart sink; there was no way she could even lie convincingly to this woman, much less prevail upon her to shirk her duty and let Jane through.  So there was only one choice:  the naked truth.  “Miss Angelo, I feel terribly about having to tell a fib to get in here, but I’m desperate to talk to Miss Morelli.  You see, I haven’t got a job or any family in town, and my rent is long overdue, but I’m a good writer so I just know I can get a job as a reporter if I can get a scoop.  Ever since Miss Morelli’s father passed on she’s been unwilling to talk to any reporters, but I thought maybe because she and I are both women trying to make it in businesses dominated by men, that she’d have pity on me.”  Jane’s tears were real; she was desperate, and lacked even the money to wire her family out West for help.

Miss Angelo regarded her with a penetrating but not-unkind gaze for agonizingly-long moments, then directed her back into the waiting room with, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Jane’s heart was pounding, but the fact that she hadn’t been instantly thrown out on her ear gave her some hope; she obediently returned to the anteroom and tried to calm herself.  It was no use; she got more and more nervous, and when Miss Angelo suddenly appeared in the doorway Jane almost screamed.  “Miss Morelli will see you.  Come this way, and mind your manners.”

She led Jane down a hall to what seemed the back of the building, where they entered an elevator that did indeed go all the way to twelve.  But when the doors opened on the floor above, Jane was taken aback by what met her eyes.  She had expected a well-lit outer office with a secretary who would usher her into the inner sanctum, but instead she found herself in a sort of vestibule opening to a large, luxuriously-appointed space only dimly lit by lamps, as one might illuminate a bedroom.  She heard the doors close behind her, and Miss Angelo was gone; Jane was apparently all alone.  Nervously, she crept forward into the vast office; the huge mahogany desk was topped with some kind of green, patterned stone, the walls behind the desk were lined with books, and the tall windows showed her that the snow flurry had become a storm.  Though it was only mid-afternoon the gloom outside did little to alleviate the shadow within; most of the light was coming from another room to her right, and she gasped as she realized that there was a woman standing in that doorway watching her.  She was breathtakingly beautiful, and the light streaming past her seemed to envelop her in a kind of aura which intensified the effect.  But at the same time Jane was terrified, not just by her reputation but by something less definable.

whiskey“Good afternoon, Miss Louis; I’m Margo Morelli.  May I get you a drink?”

“A…a drink?” she asked stupidly.  Jane’s parents were teetotalers, and even after leaving home she had been too timid to risk breaking the law, even if anyone had invited her to a party (which nobody had anyway).

The older woman smiled warmly.  “Yes.  It’s even legal again now, you know.”

“Um…yes,” stammered Jane.  “Actually, that’s what I came to talk to you about.”

“Oh?” she asked, then “What will you have?”

“Uh, whatever you’re having is fine.”  Jane couldn’t tell Bourbon from Bordeaux or brandy from beer, so it hardly mattered.  She accepted the much-too-large drink, and took a sip; its taste was strange and unpleasant to her, and she couldn’t hide the face she made when she swallowed it.  Her hostess pretended not to notice, and seated herself on the other side of the desk.

“So what can I do for you?”

“Well,” Jane said, “with the passage of the 21st Amendment last week, Prohibition is over; that means it’s legal to sell liquor again, which means your organization won’t be making any money from, ah, irregular imports any more…”

“Well put, and exactly correct.”  If Miss Morelli was annoyed with the topic, she didn’t show it.

“…so even though you have plenty of other business interests, both…ummm…regular and irregular, you stand to lose a lot of income.  You don’t strike me as the kind of woman who will take that lying down.”

“Again, exactly correct.”  Still no sign of anger, but she wasn’t helping either; Jane’s vision had now fully adjusted to the dim lighting, and she could clearly see those deep black eyes fixed upon her in a way she did not like at all.  She took another long sip, and despite the awful taste she had to admit it did seem to calm her nerves somewhat.

“So…what do you plan to do about it?”

Miss Morelli leaned back slightly in her chair and laughed, a genuine laugh in which Jane nonetheless thought she detected considerable menace.  “You are a charmingly naïve little bird, do you realize that?  It’s why I agreed to see you.  That, and the fact that both Miss Angelo and the downstairs attendant told me you were quite fetching.  They were not wrong.”

Jane felt herself blush furiously, and hoped the light was too dim for it to show.  She took a gulp.  “I…that is…um…”

“Listen, little bird.  Surely you didn’t think I’d be fool enough to go on the record answering such a ridiculous question?  Until someone invents a recording device small enough to fit in a purse, nothing I tell you would be admissible in federal court; however, my father taught me never to stir up hornets’ nests without reason.  It’s why our family has run this city since you were in pigtails.  Had you been a professional reporter instead of a little girl playing at it, you’d never have been let through the front door.”

Jane was so totally mortified she couldn’t speak, but the lovely contralto continued.  “Still, it amuses me to humor you, so I’ll answer your question.  Yes, I’m already planning to expand another of my ‘irregular’ businesses, as you so charmingly put it.  Would you like me to tell you which one?”  Perhaps it was because of the bird metaphor, but she now had the distinct mental image of her hostess as a beautiful serpent, holding her fascinated as it moved in for the kill.  Her head was gently spinning from the unfamiliar effect of the liquor, and she felt unable to speak, let alone flee.  “Have you ever heard of white slavery?”

“Oh, no,” Jane said weakly.  “You wouldn’t!”

“Does anyone know where you are right now?”

As if she had no control over it, her own mouth betrayed her.  “No.”  Her equally-traitorous body refused to move as the other woman slid across the green stone desktop and began to stroke her hair, and to her total horror something deep inside her responded to the caress.  Finally, she was able to regain enough self-control to drain the tumbler and ask, “What if I refused to go quietly?  Would you pull a gun on me, or call one of your thugs to manhandle me?”

“Nothing so crude, I assure you.”  The voice was gentle now, almost reassuring, as she took the empty glass from Jane’s trembling fingers.

“What, then?” the girl asked, fighting a wave of drowsiness that was slowly engulfing her.

“I’d simply drug your drink.”

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  –  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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