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Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’

Our job as educators is not to create a surveillance environment that teaches students how to better lie, but to foster critical thinking and civic responsibility.  – Zeynep Tufekci

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

Christopher McCormack is one of the New York Police Department’s highest-ranking officers…his ascension started three decades earlier…and [all]…along the way, police leaders were privy to an ever-growing list of complaints against McCormack…[most] of [which] were hidden from public view…What stands out…is how often Black and Latino men accused him of [molesting them under he pretext of] invasive, humiliating searches…he pulled down their pants in public, exposing their genitals…[and] used his fingers to [rape] their anal cavities [under the pretext of “searching for drugs”]…McCormack is just one of dozens of high-ranking NYPD officers who have risen [thank to egregious] misconduct in their records.  Eighty-six of the roughly 420 [cops]…who currently hold a rank above captain…have tallied at least one misconduct allegation that was substantiated by the [cops themselves], meaning that [the behavior was too blatant to hide as per standard procedure]…the…substantiated complaints are dwarfed by a far larger list of those that are “unsubstantiated,” meaning [cops were able to pretend they didn’t]…happen…

Scapegoats (#438)

I reckon someone else noticed Arpaio’s obsession with this topic:

…For $30.99, users of Cameo — an app where singers, actors and other public figures record custom video messages for a fee — can request a personalized clip of [disgraced politician Joe Arpaio] saying whatever they want…Most of Arpaio’s Cameo videos appear to be standard fare, such as birthday greetings, thank-you messages, congratulatory comments.  But one…[last week] raised eyebrows. “Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention,” Arpaio begins, though he pronounces it “Fury,” suggesting he’s not totally certain…he’s been asked to talk about…Arizona Fur Con, an annual event [for] members of the furry community…the…person who ordered the video [goes by]…Sir Yiffs A Lot.  “Yiff” refers to furry-related sexual content or activity, which made Arpaio’s sign-off all the more cringeworthy…”I’m kind of partial to dogs,” he says after a pause, as if responding to a question included in the video request. “But I love all animals. Thanks”…

Devil’s Advocate (#944) 

Florida politicians are obsessed with child-shaped toasters:

[A pervert politician from Florida] filed legislation in Congress to ban [small] sex dolls [fashioned to resemble children] nationwide…[per-Vern Buchanan] said he will reintroduce the [moronically-named] CREEPER Act…which died in the Senate [in 2018]…Buchanan said he felt the [urge] to reintroduce the legislation after [some creep had a masturbatory fantasy] that a…sex doll was being sold on the Internet…was [somehow] modeled off of a girl in Miami [even though the same model has been sold for years before the girl reached the size and age depicted by the doll]…Florida passed a similar…ban in 2019…[making it] one of only three states, along with Kentucky and Tennessee that has specifically banned [plastic toys made to resemble children]…

Welcome to the Future (#1010)

What “predictive policing” actually looks like on the ground:

Pasco County [Florida] Sheriff Chris Nocco took office in 2011 with a…plan…to create a…system to continuously monitor and harass…residents…the Sheriff’s Office generates lists of people it c[laims are] likely to break the law, based on arrest histories, un[founded allegations] and arbitrary decisions by [cops]…Then it sends deputies to find and [harass] anyone whose name appears, often without probable cause, a search warrant or evidence of a specific crime.  They swarm homes in the middle of the night, waking families and embarrassing people in front of their neighbors.  They write tickets for missing mailbox numbers and overgrown grass, saddling residents with court dates and fines.  They come again and again, making arrests for any reason they can.  One former deputy described the directive like this: “Make their lives miserable until they move or sue.”  In just five years, Nocco’s signature program has ensnared almost 1,000 people…

I Spy (#1010)

The pandemic has been a very useful excuse for expanding the police state:

[Using the excuse of] the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition of enrollment…When students enter a classroom, their phone informs a sensor that’s been installed in the room, or the app checks the Wi-Fi networks nearby to determine the phone’s location.  As a university professor, I’ve seen surveillance like this before.  Many of these apps replicate the tracking system sometimes installed on the phones of student athletes, for whom it is often mandatory.  That system tells us a lot about what we can expect with these apps…Knowing that they are being tracked, some students will no doubt let their phone “sleep” peacefully in their bed while they party elsewhere.  If a few get sick, they may hide it, for fear of having their tech trickery found out…Excessive surveillance often backfires in this way…And broad surveillance can engender a chilling effect among the whole populace…

You Were Warned (#1045)

Exactly the same thing the Democrats want, but please tell me more about the “wings”:

A group of…Republican…[politician]s introduced a new bill…aimed at chipping away some of the protections provided to social media companies through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  The [misnamed] Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act…would strip away the liability protection provided by Section 230 if a platform restricted access to content without providing specific rules that it violated…[after] Trump[‘s]…executive order [doing much the same thing was shown to be impotent, bootlicking politicians] started introducing their own legislation to amend the law…

Finding What Isn’t There (#1070)

This time they didn’t even try to wedge their scam into the “sex trafficking” narrative:

Eight [legal minors] were [taken into custody] in a five-day r[aid series] in the Indianapolis area and one person was arrested on charges including parental kidnapping…The U.S. Marshals [are] now [calling all of the apprehensions in three states “]rescue[” even though few if any of the subjects were in any danger; they are also calling all of the 72 subjects “]missing children[” even though most were not actually children and few were actually “missing” in the usual sense of the term]…The [subjects] are between 6 to 17 years old…and [some may have been arrested by the cops under guise of “rescue”, since the pigrelease claims they were all]…turned over to the Indiana Department of Child Services…and…no further details about the [subjects] or the circumstances were released…the U.S. Marshals Service [also pretended] it found 39 missing children in Georgia…[and] 25…in Ohio…[though no factual details were available in that case, either]…

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[Kamala] Harris is basically a QAnon cheerleader for people who fancy themselves too sophisticated for that crap.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

A Moral Cancer (#790)

Crypto-moralists always pretend their lust to ban things is about “health” or “safety”:

Critics are lining up to blast a report, issued by [the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory] Committee earlier this summer, that urges the government to make steep cuts to the definition of moderate alcohol consumption…DGAC…policies include everything from recommending how many servings of vegetables people should consume in a day to determining what foods to serve to troops, schoolchildren, and prisoners…The report seeks to halve the DGAC’s longstanding definition of moderate drinking for men—no more than two drinks per day—to no more than one drink per day.  (The recommendation for women, set for years at no more than one drink per day, remains unchanged)…five Harvard Medical School faculty doctors—including three who served on one or more prior iterations of the DGAC…argue the…slash…is a “limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic treatment of alcohol consumption” that is based on “limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic evidence”…the DGAC appears to have “ignored” three decades of research…in…[order] to support claims made by members of the DGAC prior to appointment…In other words…anti-alcohol DGAC members focused only on research that supports arguments those members wanted to make all along…

Comfort Zone (#839)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

A spike in migrants moving north through Panama has [cops fantsizing] the country will become an international center for human trafficking.  Last year, nearly 22,000 migrants from Haiti, Cuba and a number of African and Asian countries were [arrested] after crossing the perilous Darién jungle along the Panama-Colombia border…The journey of a migrant…isn’t cheap or easy.  Migrants usually learn of the method from friends or family members who made the trip before them, or find instructions posted online…Often, migrants pay for smuggling through what analysts call “sponsors,” usually family members or friends already in the United States…

Down Under (#890)

Swedish model regimes would’ve instead targeted the victim for surveillance:

Michael Donald Grout attempted to blackmail…a…sex [worker], then followed through on his threat and [out]ed her [to her parents]…he…was sentenced in…Palmerston North [New Zealand]…to four months’ home detention…The victim was 18 at the time, more than 40 years Grout’s junior…Grout [claimed in court that he] became fearful for his own health after reading…an…advertisement that said the woman provided unprotected sex.  This was confirmed through an interaction with another of her clients…[but rather than distancing himself from her to protect his supposedly-compromised immune system] he obtained nude photographs of the woman and…[demanded she submit to rape or] he would send the photos to her parents…she…then…blocked the [anonymous] account [from which he was sending the threats, and he retaliated by sending]…a courier package [which] arrived at the home of [her] parents [on December 19]…her mother opened it and found several naked photos of her daughter.  Attached was a note wishing the couple a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  “You must be proud of her,” Grout wrote…

Disaster (#1009)

The FOSTA challenge is proceeding again:

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is suing (again) to get FOSTA ruled unconstitutional…[on the grounds that it] violates the First and Fifth Amendments…Woodhull’s motion for summary judgment…also takes aim at the law’s retroactive scope—FOSTA says you can be punished for violating it even before the law went into effect [even though such laws are prohibited in Article I of the Constitution]…

The Course of a Disease (#1020)

Maltese prohibitionists are strikingly loony, even for prohibitionists:

Malta’s Prostitution Reform Technical Committee excludes [prohibitionists] who [persecute and infantilize] sex workers, [prohibitionists] w[hi]ned….“Nordic model” [fanatics are upset that]…the state [is instead considering]…decriminalisation…[the prohibitionists vomited idiocy about “]sex hub tourism[” (whatever that is supposed to mean)] and “European Thailand”…[and also] called for [persecution of] strip clubs,  a…police [rape gang, and forcible “conversion therapy”]…for…victims of [the police]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1040)

I only hope this turns out to be true:

Ongoing tests of facial recognition technology continue to show that the technology is baffled when people wear masks of the sort that have become widespread (and even mandatory) in some places during the current pandemic. Forty-one newly tested algorithms—some of which were designed to compensate for face coverings—show the same dramatically elevated error rates as those examined earlier.  The tests have important implications for privacy at a time…of political instability and growing concern over law enforcement excesses, when people may have a strong interest in making identification of opponents and protesters difficult for the powers-that-be…

A Broker in Pillage (#1068)

A good argument for refusing to roll over and let yourself be robbed:

What happens when innocent people stand up to government bullies who use civil forfeiture laws to steal their property?  In many cases, the bullies, unaccustomed to such resistance, fold like a cheap suit…the government returned Kevin McBride’s Jeep, which…the Pima County Attorney’s Office was demanding a $1,900 ransom for the safe return of…But the day after the Goldwater Institute threatened to sue on McBride’s behalf…prosecutors changed their tune…

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This is not a game…This is our…livelihood.  –  Cris Sardina

Counterfeit Comfort 

This steaming turd is even more worthless than is typical of NPR’s bluenosed imitation of “journalism”, starting with the headline:  the “sex offender” registry wasn’t “designed to protect” anyone; it was and is intended to inflict unconstitutional and extrajudicial punishment on an arbitrarily-defined group of people after the end of their sentences.  Even if the registry were limited to the sort of violent criminals the story luridly cherry-picks in order to uphold its false premise, it would still make no sense; there is no registry for murderers, those who permanently maimed their victims, and many other criminals far more dangerous than the majority of those condemned to permanent pariah status for such heinous “crimes” as public urination, taking selfies, or having consensual sex before the Sacred Moment of Shazam.  If, as the story postulates, there is a problem with these people taking back their lives from illegal state control, maybe the solution is to stop condemning so goddamned many people  –  a disproportionate number of whom are poor and black, and 25% of whom were first “registered” when they were under 18  –  to unpersonhood in the first goddamned place, often by evil scams such as those described in the item below.

Bait and Switch (#849)

Cops don’t care how many lives they destroy with their sick fantasies:

Since 2015, nearly 300 men in…Washington State have been arrested [by male cops fantasy-role playing online as young teen girls] in…a…[scam revoltingly labeled] Operation Net Nanny…[as is typical in such scams, many] are 25 or younger [and seeking consensual sex with age-peers, though cops manipulate them so as to be able to argue that they committed] …attempted rape of a child…even though no actual children were involved.  The emails and texts offering sex are written [one-handed] by [pervert cops]…The “girls” in the photos are [clearly] not 13.  They are [adult sows]…At least five of the men [entrapped by this evil sex game] have committed suicide…most of the [victims] have no felony record…and 92 percent have no history of violent crime.  They are nonetheless sentenced, on average, to more than six years in prison with no chance of parole…[then condemned to] the…sex-offender registry for at least 10 years — and often for life…The[se victims] can wind up serving more time than men who are convicted of sexually assaulting and raping actual children…

Make sure you read down to the part about how these ugly scams are enabled in part by “sex trafficking” profiteers “Operation Underground Railroad”, best known for their cowboy raids victimizing brown people in the developing world.

Finding What Isn’t There (#880)

The easiest way to increase “sex trafficking” numbers is to invent imaginary “victims”:

…“Operation Not Forgotten” [is what Georgia cops melodramatically called a scam in which they arrested]…26 [legal minors, mostly teen runaways] and…found [13 kids who were with parents other than those assigned custody by courts.  Spokespigs oinked out fantasies about]…potential victims of sex trafficking…

Nine adults were arrested during the raids, mostly for probation violations, custody order violations, or merely continuing to exist while condemned to the “sex offender” registry.  Despite the claims of “authorities” that this was a “sex trafficking bust”, only one person was charged under Georgia’s incredibly-broad “sex trafficking” law.

The Widening Gyre (#961)

Words cannot express the extent of my delight at seeing the arch-mythmonger Polaris forced to debunk some of the hysteria it has disseminated (and profited handsomely from) for most of this century.  In the past few years, local cop shops have often been forced to deny stupid rumors that they aren’t in control of which are clogging their phone lines, but this is the first time I’ve seen Polaris put in this position, and the schadenfreude is so sweet.  Incidentally, the reason I took a screenshot of this press release rather than linking it is that Polaris counts clicks on their site as “sex trafficking reports”, and they even block the Internet Archive from archiving their pages so as to force those wanting to disseminate the information to cick directly on their site, thus unwittingly giving them ammo for their campaign of lies.

Paint By Numbers (#973)

Have you noticed dumb “anti-trafficking” stunts are now mostly ads for sports?

Renée Brinkerhoff…started Project 356…to…“use [auto rally] racing as a platform to do something about child trafficking worldwide”…[after] she saw a man on an airport bus viewing a…[porn] image of a young child on his phone…Ms. Brinkerhoff…also “participated in [anti-whore stings]”…She once spent two weeks in Southeast Asia working with…Exodus Road, a…profit[able anti-sex work] organization…that [provides opprtunities for weathy white entertainers to play cowboy using brown people in developing countries as unwlling props]

Working From Home (#1045)

So much for the idea that celebrities cosplaying as sex workers would fight stigma:

Bella Thorne…[is a] former Disney star [who] made $1 million…during her first 24 hours on OnlyFans…[by] engaging in fraudulent behavior…[thus] triggering OnlyFans policy changes that harm sex workers…Thorne had charged $200 for nudes that she failed to deliver, and which reportedly led to numerous refund requests…[as a result] OnlyFans introduced…policy change[s] that…add[ed] a 30-day wait period for payouts and restrict[ed] pay-per-view prices to $50.  The company [claim]s the policy change wasn’t based on a single user, but many saw it as a response to the [huge number of] chargebacks…Thorne…[issued a mealy-mouthed “apology” in which she claimed her scam was somehow well-intended]…

The Implosion Begins

Evangelical churches get what they deserve for embracing “sex trafficking” mythology:

Some Christian leaders, including a couple of prominent conservative evangelicals, have denounced…QAnon…and…its…growing support among…evangelical churchgoers and other mostly conservative communities…Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr…compared QAnon…to the early church heresy of Gnosticism …“Christians don’t have secret beliefs we hide from the world”…Tyler Huckabee, senior editor at Relevant Magazine…that QAnon’s claims are “farfetched”…and fueled by “confirmation bias”…Author and pastor Joe Carter denounced QAnon in a column…label[ing] QAnon a “political cult” and “satanic movement…QAnon…often traffics in lies, which Jesus says are associated with Satan”…

For evangelicals to refer to dealing in lies as “Satanic” when they have embraced that strategy in their attacks on science, human sexuality, and sexual minorities for over four decades is pretty fucking rich.  And for evangelicals to call others’ beliefs “farfetched” is laugh-out-loud funny.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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What seems obvious to citizens is far too often deliberately unclear to government agencies.  –  Tim Cushing

Negative Secondary Effects

Busybodies are trying to ban dancing by cribbing language from the federal “obscenity” test:

The city council of Drain, Oregon passed new regulations…with the specific purpose of outlawing a…[strip club by] introducing business licenses to the city’s Code of Ordinances…[and adding a] new pro-censorship ordinance [featuring nonsense about]…”public morals, public safety, public health and public convenience”…and…“public nudity…appeals to the prurient interest…and…lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value”…Ray Hacke, an attorney with the…religious [pro-censorship] group Pacific Justice Institute [bloviated that]…“an adult entertainment business has no business…next to a church…[or] any place where children congregate…These places do [magically] attract sexual predators”…

Choke Point (#859) 

Decriminalization is just the beginning:

Last month Kiwibank rolled out a “responsible banking policy” stating that it would no longer deal with any companies involved in [fossil fuels] and blacklisting the adult entertainment industry, casinos, military grade weapons, synthetic drugs, palm oil, tobacco and predatory lending.  But after representations from the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective, Kiwibank agreed to work with strip clubs and brothels that could demonstrate good practice.  The NZPC argued that banning brothel owners would have a flow-on effect to the people who worked for them.  Since then, [prohibitionist group] Wahine Toa Rising has written to Kiwibank applauding its initial commitment to [misogyny and discrimination]…and asking them to reconsider.  Kiwibank is still considering its response…

Even in New Zealand, the yellow press colludes with prohibitionists.  From the headline claiming that bigotry and dicrimination are “principled”, to the mischaracterization of a rescue-industry organization employing paid “survivor” shills as a legitimate sex worker group, to the prohibitionist propaganda which makes up the bulk of the article, to the Swedish criminalization snake oil, to the ugly prohibitionist masturbatory fantasies such as “the majority of sex workers…[were] sexually abused as…child[ren]”, this garbage would be more at home in a US tabloid than a New Zealand website purporting to be a news magazine.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#938)

Partly because of their legalized status, strippers are spearheading the movement for sex worker labor rights:

BammRose…is…the CEO of Stilettos Inc., a grassroots organization led by sex workers that provides support to Black dancers, and has called for a strippers’ strike in Philadelphia. The Stilettos, as they call themselves, are not alone in mobilizing for the workplace rights of Black dancers in the stripping industry. In Portland, more than a hundred strippers went on strike in June against…racist hiring practices, and organized rallies pressuring strip clubs to…hire Black dancers…and give them profitable shifts…At the root of the strippers’ strike is a demand for better, safer working conditions, fair wages, and protection from sexual assault…

A Broker in Pillage (#988)

Michigan is among the greediest, most unscrupulous states in this regard:

[The Michigan supreme] court…[ruled in favor of] two plaintiffs suing…Oakland County…[over its] forfeiture policy…a…tax lien…[was] put on [Uri Rafaeli’s] property when…he…[underpaid his property taxes by] “$8.41 in…2011, which grew to $285.81 after interest, penalties, and fees. Oakland County and its treasurer, Andrew Meisner…foreclosed on Rafaeli’s property…sold [it] at public auction for $24,500, and retained all the sale proceeds”…the county turned less than $300 in delinquencies into a $24,200 profit…Another property owner, Andre Ohanessian, saw $6000 in taxes, fines, and fees turn into a $76,000 net gain for the county when it auctioned his property for $82,000 and kept everything…

The Widening Gyre (#1014)

I can’t tell you how satisfied I am that Trumpaloons are taking over “sex trafficking” hysteria:

a [Facebook] post shared over 1,000 times reads…“Did you KNOW that a child in AMERICA is over 66,000 x more likely to be human trafficked than to get COVID-19?”  Similar [Facebook] posts contend that upwards of 800,000 children go missing every year, and that mask-wearing makes a child more likely to be trafficked.  These posts also criticize government officials and businesses for promoting mask use, [fantasiz]ing they are endangering children.  “We have now COMPLETELY taken away identifying our children’s faces.  We’ve made it much easier on these child abductors and human traffickers!” a post shared almost 8,000 times reads…“A child is 66,667 times more likely to be sold to human traffickers than die of COVID-19,” another post shared 2,000 times reads. “In addition, your masks assist in them being transported undetected and unidentified to anyone”…

Best part: the article then goes on to attempt to debunk these hysterical fantasies while simultaneously wallowing in other claims nearly as wacko as “masks cause sex trafficking!”

Pyrrhic Victory (#1060) 

Facial recognition systems have quietly become ubiquitous:

A would-be class action lawsuit alleges that the Macy’s department store chain violates Illinois law when it identifies customers recorded on its surveillance cameras by using facial recognition software…the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act…bars some private companies from obtaining scans of facial geometry without written consent.  Macy’s uses software provided by Clearview AI Inc., which scrapes data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other internet platforms…Clearview…provides facial recognition services to more than 200 corporate clients, including Macy’s, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Walmart.  Some of the companies used the software on a trial basis, but Macy’s is a paying customer that has completed more than 6,000 searches…

Top Cop (#1062)

This psychopath is only two steps from the power she so desperately craves:

Joe Biden announced [last week] that he had picked [Kamala] Harris to be his running mate as he seeks to become the next president of the United States.  The good news is that it keeps Harris—who has a long and authoritarian history on criminal justice issues—far from the [post of] attorney general…[where she] would have the potential to do much more damage than as vice president.  The bad news is that it puts Harris next in line for the presidency should anything happen to [the man who would be the oldest ever elected to that office] and sets her up nicely for a future presidential run.  In Harris, we would get a leader with President Donald Trump’s penchant for unchecked executive power and modern Democrats’ tendency to consider no issue outside the reach of government.  The pick is somewhat surprising…[considering] Harris’ backhanded busing stunt during the Democratic candidate debates last summer, and…[her] troubling history…[on] law-and-order issues [for which she] is despised…by many young left-of-center voters…That’s a particular liability as Americans streets are still erupting with protests over police violence and calls for criminal justice reform…

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The fear of ending up homeless is bigger than that of Covid.
–  Fernanda Ponciano

Panopticon (#609)

Buried lede: cops were using a license plate reader to manufacture “probable cause”:

[Cops arrested] and [terrorized] a Black mother and four children [at gunpoint] after [claimining] their SUV [was really] a stolen motorcycle from another state…[fortunately] several…witnesses [recorded the cops’ crime]…The [cops had been] us[ing] a license plate scanner to…[spy] on vehicles in the area…[the boss pig] blamed the license plate reader but could not explain why the dozens of [cops] who responded [were too goddamned stupid to comprehend that a truck isn’t a motorcycle]…Video shows over a dozen [cops] standing around the traumatized family…

Too Close To Home (#760)

The fanatically-prohibitionist Seattle Times demonstrates what an eager copsucker it is with this pathetic op-ed from a prosecutor and a prohibitionist profiteer that absolutely reeks of desperation in its mixture of begging and demanding Seattle politicians to prop up the dying “sex trafficking” scam by continuing to send cops to stalk, surveil, rape, harass, rob and otherwise ruin the lives of consenting adults.  When all this is over, we can only hope that the Seattle Times is one of the businesses that perishes, and good riddance.

Pyrrhic Victory (#846)

More on Amazon’s partnership with fascist surveillance pusher Marinus:

…the founders of Marinus Analytics created Traffic Jam, a [program] designed to [collaborate with cops to persecute sex workers]…by sifting through digital information gathered from the[ir] online a[ds]…Over the past year, Marinus worked with Amazon…and used the cloud-based graph database Amazon Neptune to boost the efficiency of Traffic Jam and help automate tedious manual processes to create a system capable of quickly identifying relationships and providing [more private] in[formation about sex workers] to [pigs]…Traffic Jam collects data from websites…used by [sex workers to advertise]…and rel[ate]s…[it to other] information as imagery, dates, locations, [stage] names…and [government names in order to out sex wokers to cops so they can be targeted for persecution, up to and including rape, robbery, and forced brainwashing programs]…Once connected through Neptune, Traffic Jam received a giant boost to its capabilities.  The system could now traverse relationships between data points up to 2.5 degrees of separation and expand to collect more than 350,000 data points daily…queries run…twice the speed despite using a dataset that is now four to eight times larger than before…

All-Purpose Excuse (#1011)

Trumpists and anti-Trumpists continue to fight for control of the “sex trafficking” narrative:

The Trump administration…announced more than $35 million in Justice Department grants to organizations that pro[fit from hysteria over]…human trafficking [but are now hurting due to decline in public interest in their fantasies due to the pandemic]…Ivanka Trump called human trafficking the “gravest of human rights violations”…[she has embraced the eradication of sex work as one of her causes despite her stepmother’s history of sex work].  The grants will be shared by 73 organizations in 33 states [that pretend] to provide…assistance to survivors, [though in actuality the supposed “assistance” is usually just a photocopy of public aid offices, etc]…Among organizations sharing the grants are [Hookers for Jesus]

Above the Law (#1056)

Another UK politician has been accused of rape:

A [member of parliament and]…former minister ha[s] been [accused of rape] by an…employee….[who] alleg[es]…four separate [attacks]…between July 2019 and January 2020…he…left h[is victim] so traumatised that she had to go to hospital…

Bureaucrats are calling this a “serious matter”, yet won’t identify the rapist.

Social Distancing (#1056)

I’ve corrected the blatantly false claims The Times makes about economic relief for sex workers:

When the mayor of Modica [Italy]…learned that a sex worker in the area had tested positive for the coronavirus, he immediately [descended into “dirty whore” tropes]…the…situation…highlight[ed] the…dangers of keeping sex work in the shadows…prostitution is not illegal, nor is it regulated as an official occupation, making the country’s 70,000 sex workers largely ineligible to receive economic relief.  Many have been forced to take their chances by returning to work in order to avoid poverty…the Netherlands and Germany [have forced] sex workers [naive enough to]…officially register…with the government [to go without work, even after all other close-contact businesses have re-opened]…Scotland also [ex]cluded sex workers [from] its relief programs.  In Greece…brothels were allowed to reopen on June 15, [albeit with government demands they violate professional discretion by revealing] clients’ names [to the “authorities”]…In Italy, various charities and associations have raised money for groceries, medicines, bills and rent to benefit the country’s sex workers…

Traffic Circle (#1062)

I’m glad to see more podcasts having Liz Brown on to debunk “sex trafficking” BS:

Reason senior editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown has done extensive research and coverage on the topic of sex work and…explains how authoritarians use the…term [“sex trafficking”] to punish and harm…sex work[ers]…how criminalization of sex work protects rapists & abusers…and how [massage parlor raids have]…become the #1 way for [cops] to make themselves look like they are…fighting trafficking…

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Scholars who pathologize sex workers in the classroom grant the state license to mete out gratuitous violence in the streets.  –  Rahsaan Mahadeo

Maggie in the Media

I was recently interviewed on an Australian sex worker radio show named Behind Closed Doors; it was originally supposed to be only one show, but Kitty, Dean & I were enjoying ourselves so much we just kept going and did a two-parter!  Here it is in podcast form (Part One & Part Two); I hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed talking!

The Course of a Disease

The Swedish rot has reached Eastern Europe:

Since July 1, in Latvia…[prostitution is technically not] illegal  as politicians have been unable to reach a compromise on this issue…The only [criminalization] proposal has been submitted by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par! (AP!) and its sets forth punishing only the buyer of the prostitution services and not the person providing them.  The proposal is to be reviewed in the Interior Ministry. Following this process, the ministry plans to bring the draft law for discussion in the government…

The Notorious Badge

Critics just can’t resist inserting their own dumb beliefs about whores into even good reviews:

Alice, the feature debut from Australian writer-director Josephine Mackerras, is…a leftfield take on female empowerment…Alice…discovers that her husband has cleaned out their accounts and stopped paying their mortgage; a bit of digging later and she discovers the money has been spent on prostitutes…With the bank threatening to foreclose on her home and a huge sum to pay…Alice agrees to work for the very escort agency her husband favoured; there is quite simply nothing else that will keep the roof over her head…Mackerras’s take on prostitution won’t be for everyone, and it does sugar-coat the profession somewhat, but it’s a sympathetic and often gutsy portrait of a woman doing what she must, and surviving, even thriving…

Acknowledging that selling sex is pragmatic and lucrative is “sugar-coating”.

Feminists and Other Puritans

An excerpt from The Feminist War on Crime by Aya Gruber

…The feminist penal regimes implemented in the 1980s and 1990s are now entrenched institutions overseen by prosecutors…administrators, and for-profit actors with vested interests in their continued survival.  Politicians are certainly not apologizing for VAWA…[and] plenty of feminists…remain committed not just to upholding the existing feminist crime control regimes and closing “loopholes” in them but also to creating new ones—new antitrafficking laws, revenge-porn laws, laws against hosting prostitution ads, [etc]…Campus antirape sentiments have proven a boon to prosecutors eager to implement strict versions of affirmative consent…and expand pro-prosecution trial rules…some of the most ardent prison critics…proceed as if there were a carve-out to the mass incarceration critique for sexual misconduct—including, or perhaps especially, intoxicated sex or sex without affirmative consent—even though there is no such carve-out for aggravated assault, drug dealing, or even murder…

Wise Investment (#1024)

In every country, sex workers, clients & everyone else harmed by “prostitution stings” needs to keep suing over them:

Liberal scholar [and long-time critic of the Chinese Communist Party] Xu Zhangrun has hired two lawyers to prepare legal action against police who accused him of soliciting prostitution…Xu was dismissed by Tsinghua University in Beijing…after he was taken away by police who [claimed] that the…scholar had solicited prostitutes in the southwestern city of Chengdu last year.  Xu, who had taught at Tsinghua for 20 years, was sacked because of “moral corruption”…The law professor…[hired] lawyers Mo Shaoping and Shang Baojun, and former human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang…to represent him…in an attempt to overturn an administrative ruling b[ased on a]…confession…police [pretend he made but]…Xu [denies]…

The Cop Myth (#1045)

Sociologists may at last be admitting their role in creating the police state:

Now is the time for sociology to reckon with its role…in the production of a criminal legal system subsidized by Black captivity, dispossession, debt and death…Any academic attempt to distinguish between “good policing” and “bad policing” or “overpolicing” and “underpolicing” makes policing itself not just theoretically possible, but legitimate…The University of Minnesota has already committed to cutting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.  Now it and other sociology programs around the country must take the next step by canceling carceral curricula…According to an American Sociological Association report, “criminology/delinquency” was the highest-ranked specialization sought by employers…in 2019.  Courses like “Deviant Behavior,” “Criminal Behavior and Social Control”…and “Juvenile Delinquency” not only legitimize state violence, but also employ academics…sociologists fail to consider how “deviance,” “delinquency,” “criminal” and “terrorist” still conjure up racialized images that cops…and [spooks]…use…to…justify the killing of people of color…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1060)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

[Pennsylvania politician] Mike Folmer [was convicted on child pornography charges despite]…pleas [that the]…judge [should let him skate because Jesus]…Folmer [was]…sentence[d to 2 years in prison]…8 years on probation…[and] sex offender [registration] for 15 years…[his] defense attorney [also made the bizarre argument that he should be let off easy because he is a career sociopath]…“He had an addiction to pornography,” [attorney Brian] Perry said…Folmer [demonstrated his megalomania]…to the judge…[by comparing himself to] King David…

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It’s disheartening to see Twitter side with the police against researchers, journalists, and the public.  –  Emma Best

Pathologization

The abuses committed by the “therapeutic state” are rarely so blatant:

A 16-year-old boy [locked in] a Los Angeles County [cage stack] developed enlarged breasts after he was [forced to take] estrogen [against his will to make him docile]…a move that baffled doctors who said the [so-called] treatment defied medical logic…The teen…was [claimed to have “]oppositional defiant disorder[“, a label invented to medicalize teens’ natural resentment of being treated like children]…Medical records…show that the teen’s testosterone levels were “slightly high” when the doctor [assigned to control] him prescribed daily doses of estrogen…After taking approximately 13 daily doses of the hormone, the teen was diagnosed with gynecomastia…James McGough, a professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA…[said]“You won’t find a reference anywhere that supports the use of estrogen for ODD”…The doctor who prescribed the estrogen, Danny Wang, [is being sued along with the county by the young man, who]…will require surgery to treat the [malformity]…Wang prescribed a daily regimen of 2 milligrams of estrogen…without the parents’ consent…

2 mg of estrogen is roughly 4x the typical amount taken for hormone replacement by post-menopausal women.

Lying Down With Dogs (#412)

What other country does this sound like?

In mid-June, Tunisian Islamic political party El-Karama launched an initiative to ban all forms of sex work in the country and penalise sex workers…[using the moronic excuse of] “the dignity of…woman”… “Political parties [used to] shun sex work issues. It’s a taboo subject,” says Souhaila Bensaid, founder of the Tunisian Association for Positive Prevention (ATP+) for sexual and reproductive health. But increased animosity against sex workers over the past decade has turned into “a moralistic crusade,” according to Bensaid, leaving women in increasingly precarious situations with little to no protection…

Censor Chic (#882)

Corporations are becoming the favored tool of censors around the world:

Twitter has banned the account of the collective that published almost 270 gigabytes of leaked documents from police departments all over the country…Emma Best, the founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets…said that Twitter had taken down the official account of the DDoSecrets collective, which is made of activists, journalists, and technologists…when a Twitter user now clicks on a link that leads to the DDoSecrets’ site, it’s redirected to a warning that labels it as “unsafe”…“it’s disheartening to see Twitter side with the police against researchers, journalists, and the public”…[said] Best…

Forward and Backward (#894)

A prohibitionist attempt to destroy the Leeds red light district has been defeated:

The University of Huddersfield…[was] tasked…with investigating how effective the [Leeds] Managed Approach (MA) was, amid [attempts by] some [politicians to]…abandon…[it] altogether…the review concluded: “The MA was found to be more effective at reducing the impact of problems associated with on-street sex working than any other approach or model.  There are currently no alternative models or approaches that promise to be more effective and which fit within existing UK law on sex working”…[unfortunately NIMBY] residents [have] stag[ed] regular protests…[using the usual hackneyed claims of] littering and soliciting creeping into residential areas

The Cop Myth (#1004)

41% of cops admit to beating their wives. Some don’t stop with beating:

[A] Dover [New Hampshire cop named Ronald Letendre beat his wife] Sarah [so severely he broke four of her ribs, then had her arrested] and charged her with domestic violence [on him]…the…husband…is a[lso]…a…former MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter…[since] the incident…The…police are…con[tinuing to harass]…Sarah…stopp[ing] her vehicle [and trying to brutalize and re-arrest her on bullshit charges]…Fortunately [s]he…was [able to escape] and…ha[s] not yet [been tracked down by]…police…

The Mote and the Beam (#1016)

Hawley has a long history of spouting self-aggrandizing lies about sex workers:

When Missouri police raided several Springfield massage parlors in 2017, as…Josh Hawley…tells it, it was a righteous rescue mission led by a promising young attorney general who would later go on to become a rising Republican star in the U.S. Senate…While this tale nicely reinforces Hawley’s long-standing preoccupations with public morality  and Chinese hegemonythe evidence doesn’t back up his version of events.  The real story is one about police and prosecutor overreach at the expense of potentially vulnerable immigrants, followed by grandstanding and falsehoods from a senator intent on rewriting his own history.  Three years after the initial raids, Missouri has [only] managed to elicit six guilty pleas to misdemeanor offenses against the state’s massage licensing law…Hawley’s…raids…[were] largely based on…the fact that they all advertised on the now-seized classified ad site Backpage

Safe Position (#1042)

Under the current zeitgeist, Swedish model pushers are being increasingly seen as the copsuckers they are:

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz [lied during] her campaign [by] promis[ing] to end the criminalization of sex work…[in reality she is pursuing a Swedish criminalization strategy…Amnesty International found in a study published in 2016, that [this] Model violate[s] the rights of sex workers by creating an atmosphere of fear built upon surveillance, evictions, and deportations…

Quiet Genocide (#1054)

Are Western media finally going to stop tiptoeing around calling this what it is?

Two recent disturbing events may finally awaken the world to the scale and horror of the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs…One is an authoritative report documenting the systematic sterilization of Uighur women.  The other was the seizure by U.S. Customs…of 13 tons of products made from human hair…forcibly removed from Uighurs imprisoned in concentration camps.  Both…evoke chilling parallels to past atrocities elsewhere, forced sterilization of minorities, disabled, and Indigenous people, and the image of the glass display of mountains of hair preserved at Auschwitz.  The Genocide Convention, to which China is a signatory, defines genocide as specific acts against members of a group with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part.  These acts  include (a) killing; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm; (c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life to bring about the group’s physical destruction; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.  Any one of these…constitutes genocide.  The overwhelming evidence [is that] Chin[a’s]…campaign [against]…the Uighur people…meets [all] of the[m]…Over a million…Uighurs are…subjected to electrocution, waterboarding, repeated beatingsstress positions, and injections of unknown substances…The repeated government orders to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins”…demonstrate a clear intent to eradicate the Uighur people as a whole…

Disqualified

Twitter accidentally admitted what everyone already knew:

[Last week]s hack of a large number of prominent Twitter accounts — which led to the company’s disabling of…verified…accounts for part of the day — also resulted in the unexpected confirmation of the practice known by users as “shadowbanning,” and by Twitter as “blacklisting”…the secret re-categorization of certain Twitter accounts, without the knowledge of the affected user or their followers, so that they do not show up in searches, predictive auto-complete fields or trending topics.  Even though…companies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have in the past denied knowing what “shadowbanning” meant, large numbers of sex workers…are verifiably victims of this…practice…a…Motherboard article…[showed] a screencapture from Twitter’s back-end reveal[ing] some accounts labeled under “Trends Blacklist” and “Search Blacklist”…[reporter Samantha] Cole explained…“A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard on the phone that these blacklists are the same ones it explained in 2018 (though it didn’t use the term ‘blacklist’ at the time and has not used that word publicly)”…

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One Neck

Would that the Roman people had but one neck!  –  Gaius Caligula

I’m not going to analyze this propaganda too deeply, parse out which of the statements make sense and which don’t, or discuss the long and tortured history of the construct of “whiteness” and how it has changed over the past 400 years.  I’m not even going to comment (beyond this sentence) on the fact that this was lifted from a 30-year-old book by a white woman.  All I’m going to do is remind you that the National Museum of African American History & Culture is part of the Smithsonian; it is owned and run by the US government, and therefore heavily invested in promoting that government’s interests (because he who pays the piper calls the tune).  And then I’m going to ask you why a government might want the most oppressed minority under its rule to associate individualism, independence, autonomy, and rational thought with their oppressors.

 

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It will probably come as no surprise to my readers that I’ve never liked cop glorification shows.  Even before I was old enough to understand why glorifying state enforcers was wrong, and before I was wise enough to recognize that such shows constitute propaganda for a stage-four “might makes right” weltanschauung, they made me uneasy for reasons I could not adequately express.  So while one my little sisters was glued to Adam-12 (and later ChiPs), and another never missed an episode of Starsky and Hutch, I went off to my room to read.  When one of my university boyfriends told me about the now-infamous Dirty Harry “make my day” sequence, I feigned polite disinterest to cloak not-so-polite disgust, but a decade later, when I came home once to find Jack watching Cops, I flew into a barely-articulate rage whose character you can probably guess without any further elaboration on my part.  Such shows, going back at least to Dragnet, Highway Patrol and The Untouchables, have always put lipstick on pigs and presented cops as heroic and principled defenders of the weak from villainous “criminals” with less character development than Snidely Whiplash, incorruptible white knights who would never ever ever rob or frame people, lie under oath, stalk or even rape women, or brutalize, maim and murder people, sometimes by literally shooting them in the back.  But while other popular ’50s genres such as westerns, family sitcoms, anthology shows and science fiction have either largely vanished or dramatically changed, cop glorification shows have only proliferated; it seems like every second or third time I run into a television set somewhere, it’s showing an episode of either C.S.I. or Law & Order: SVU (usually with a storyline involving a dead hooker).  And every time that has happened since the advent of ubiquitous video recording a few years ago, I’ve idly wondered how the hell such shows, even in the deeply-authoritarian US, could have developed so little since Jack Webb’s Joe Friday deadpanned, “Just the facts, ma’am” (except for the cops becoming even more unbelievably competent via magical “forensics”).  Well, recently I read an article on just that subject which interviewed a number of writers, directors, and other staff from such shows, and…well, it’s not pretty.  Here are a few short passages to whet your appetite:

No one has done more to propagate the myth of the hero cop than the writers of network-television police procedurals.

“I was told pretty early on to avoid dirty cops as story points.”

“We are in the hero business. There have been times when I’ve felt complicit in what is, essentially, a police department’s PR campaign…If we show B-roll footage, you’re going to see a cop doing a hero walk and getting into his car like a cowboy; we’re not going to show him swinging a baton at some kid on the sidewalk.”

“…we reinforce the idea that police are good so that the world is exactly the way the people in our audience want to believe it is…we rationalize it because this is our job.  Even if we know it’s wrong.”

“…we have a police technical consultant…and if the director doesn’t know how to block a certain scene, our consultant becomes the arbiter of what is realistic…he always makes sure we manufacture a reason why the cop would have…the right to get violent.  We always have to make sure we show the guy reaching toward his pocket for a gun.”

“For the sake of storytelling, we create myths.”

“The truth is, the day-to-day work of a police officer isn’t exciting enough for television, so we dramatize it.”

The common yokel considers my job degrading, but I’m not the one getting paid to lie about violent thugs so the public stays asleep while a vast police state is constructed around them.

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