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Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’

The point [of vice laws] is keeping cops busy, giving them a chance to play hero, and letting them seize all the assets they can.  –  Liz Brown

Check Your Premises 

This is why sex workers shouldn’t “debate” prohibitionists; it gives an air of false legitimacy to people who are so stupid and deranged that they make up their own facts, support them with outright lies, then argue that stalking, harassing, humiliating, evicting and impoverishing women is actually “helping” them:

De[ranged politician]…Thangam Debbonaire  [fantasized that]…punishments must remain in place for the “pimps and punters” who “buy and sell other women’s bodies”.  The [ignorant prohibitionist]…was arguing against Niki Adams, a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes…Debbonaire said [propaganda] produced by the Police Foundation, a [pig-fellating] think tank, [fantasized] women working in three-quarters of Bristol’s 65 brothels were…coerced, trafficked and forced…she [fantasized that]…“if I’m exploited as a prostitute and someone says, ‘I’m going to pay to have sex with you’ and I then change my mind for whatever reason, and they insist on having their commercial contract fulfilled – which legalising or decriminalising would do – then they are raping me, and I have no choice”…Debbonaire said she supported prostitution continuing to be against the law so that [pigs can rape]…women [instead]…

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

The anti-porn loons are completely losing their minds:

Uganda’s pornography detecting machine is said to be coming soon…the machine is said to be able to detect both deleted and current pornographic materials stored on people’s computers in Uganda.  This apparently includes detection and blocking of porn photos, videos or any graphics taken or saved on anyone’s phone, computer or camera…The…machine…cost Uganda’s government $88,000…and is reported to have been developed in South Korea…It is not exactly clear what the porn detector machine actually is, i.e. whether it is a content filtering machine which all ISPs in Uganda will be expected to connect to, or whether it is some of a deep packet inspection system…

She Should Know Better

As I’ve pointed out before, Arianna Huffington is a world-class hypocrite. Despite the fact that she made a tremendous amount of money via her sexual liaisons with men, she allows her rag to host propaganda claiming every other woman who does it is a “victim”.  And now she’s hosting some of the most vile filth I’ve seen in a while; prohibitionists drunk on blood and money have now expanded their claims from the usual “women have no sexual agency” to the much larger “no person has sexual agency”.  And as usual, the silence from Gay, Inc is deafening despite the fact that a very large fraction of gender and sexual minorities have participated in the sex trade from either the selling or buying side, or both.  I’m not going to quote any of this regurgitated feces; suffice to say that the lunatic who wrote it has expanded the “money is a magic mind-control spell” idiocy to a whole new level.

The More the Better 

Sex work is work, and there is no specific “sex worker type”:

…Rosie Renee, a 22-year-old from Queensland, quit her job as a personal trainer to enter the lucrative “camming” industry and decided to share her story to break down sex industry stereotypes.  But after reading comments from critics claiming she needed to “go to school” and that she “can’t possibly be proud”, Ms Renee took to her Facebook page to address them directly.  “I’ve worked harder and have done more than just about any other 22-year-old I know…I built, owned and operated a gym, I’ve managed restaurants, I ran my own cleaning business, I PAID out of pocket to get an education after high school and yes I am proud of what I do because I’ve worked damn hard (I’ve worked harder as a cam girl than I have in even the most hands on vanilla job I ever had)”…

Bogeymen

Remember this next time you hear pigs oinking about how many “pimps” they arrested:

A husband and wife…were arrested.  She was charged with a misdemeanor.  He’s facing a human-trafficking charge and decades in prison.  The case perfectly encapsulates how harsh laws against human trafficking are used to target sex workers’ families, friends, and colleagues who so much as drive them to meet a client.  It also showcases the sexism at work…Neither [Jason] Hicks nor his wife Heather…were involved in anything the average person would think of as sex trafficking; this was just an old-fashioned vice sting…

The Public Eye 

Another sex worker turned performing artist, this one a rapper:

…Chae Buttuh is definitely true to this…HoFi and its sexiness was inspired by a brief time in my life when I escorted.  I don’t escort now, unless I have to.  I hate it…it’s the customer that matters type shit…I’ve been a sugar baby for almost 10 years now…I met my main sugar daddy when I was 18, he was 42.  He fed me, housed me, and  really helped me a lot (He actually funds a lot of my touring)…from the outside it all seems good, but it’s not always.  I’m constantly worrying about when he may just stop and I’m left stranded…I want to be able to survive off my art and quit the sugar baby game…

I Saw My Brain

Your regular reminder that Grady Judd is an utterly loathsome excuse for a human:

A Florida sheriff said…he’ll arrest people with open warrants who seek shelter from Hurricane Irma…”If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn [law enforcement officers] will be at every shelter, checking IDs.  Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed,” the Polk County Sheriff’s Office tweeted [last] Wednesday morning as the hurricane hit the Virgin Islands. “If you go to a shelter for #Irma and you have a warrant, we’ll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail”…

Just a reminder: most “registered sex offenders” are only guilty of “offenses” like public urination or sexting/having sex with peers while teenaged.  And most “warrants” are for garbage like unpaid fines or missed court appearances; most of those fines are for things like broken tail lights or expired license plates.  For most of my twenties I had warrants on a regular basis, probably about once a year; in much of the US, especially the South, having warrants is almost synonymous with being poor.

Lower Education

Emily Yoffe takes a deep dive down the “campus rape crisis” rabbit hole:

…[Kangaroo courts] were mandated or strongly encouraged by federal rules that govern the handling of sexual assault allegations on campus today.  These rules proliferated during the Obama administration, as did threats of sanctions if schools didn’t follow them precisely…a new attitude about due process—and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty—has taken hold, one that echoes the infamous logic of Edwin Meese, who…argu[ed] against the Miranda warning.  “The thing is,” Meese said, “you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime.  That’s contradictory.  If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”  There is no doubt that until recently, many women’s claims of sexual assault were reflexively and widely disregarded—or that many still are in some quarters…But many of the remedies that have been pushed on campus in recent years are unjust to men, infantilize women, and ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the fight against sexual violence…

The Mote and the Beam (#762)

Jeremy Malcolm uses the imminent destruction of the internet by SESTA as the jumping-off point for a broader discussion of censorship in the name of “THE CHILDREN!!!!!

…SESTA will cause significant harm to those who have nothing to do with sex trafficking, impacting free speech and innovation across the Internet.  And this is only the latest in a long line of measures taken in the name of child protection by both governments and private companies that actually have much more sweeping ramifications for users…

The Mote and the Beam (#763)

Now that “sex trafficking” hysteria is endangering the entire internet, the ACLU and other groups have finally decided to pull their thumbs out of their arses and say something:

We, the undersigned human rights and civil liberties organizations, write to convey our significant concern with S.1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which was introduced earlier this week…the approach of SESTA, to create substantial new federal and state criminal and civil liability for the Internet intermediaries that host third-party speech, will lead to increased censorship across the web…These entities – including website operators, email providers, messaging services, search engines, access providers, and more – form the platform on which all online speech depends.  These intermediaries in turn depend on protections from liability for the user-generated speech they host and transmit.  Without this protection, intermediaries would face a potential lawsuit in each one of the thousands, millions, or even billions, of posts, images, and video uploaded to their services every day…

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Brooke Magnanti has released a new, revised edition of her book The Sex Myth, retitled Sex, Lies and Statistics.  This was adapted by Brooke from her afterword (the foreword was written by yours truly), and I hope it will serve to encourage you to buy the book, which demolishes the shoddy garbage prohibitionists hold up in place of actual facts.  And it’s on sale now!

Media are obsessed with promoting a view we would previously have dismissed as Victorian.  There are indeed parallels.  The end of the 19th century and start of the 20th brought new technologies to add to the dissemination of ideas through mass media (much like the Internet today)…with the predictable horror and blame that brought then, just like now.  The political class made some unexpected alliances as a result; again, we see this happening.  Feminism has joined the anti-sex bandwagon in a big way.  Not just by blaming men for inequality between the sexes, but perhaps more profitably and successfully by blaming other women.  Many mainstream feminist critiques gloss over old “man-hating” attitudes and place blame squarely on other women.  Instead of embracing women who challenge convention, the preoccupation is with shooting them down.  On the one hand, we’re told that anyone who believes women and men should have equal rights under the law is a feminist, whether they know it or not.  On the other, we are told that one or another group of women are traitors.  It’s the feminists who have taken up the finger-wagging role of the patriarchy.  Take, for example, this quote by Julie Burchill:  “When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women.”  Advocating the murder of large numbers of women is such a great way to win supporters to the cause, no?

The more you look at the key players behind some of the stories, the more you notice odd pairings.  A group working closely with the anti-gay, anti-abortion US lobbying group using a female MP as the mouthpiece of their opinions on porn.  The well-known feminists signing up to work with far right groups.  Celebrities lending star power to issues they don’t understand at all.  Almost all approaches to these issues fail to consider the diversity of factors involved.  The “Swedish model” of sex work is an example of this.  Lots of hype, not a lot of data on whether paid sex work has stopped or whether anyone’s life has been improved as a result.  Columnists like Joan Smith can gush about jumping in to a cop car to see how the law is panning out, all while ignoring the fact that sex workers repeatedly confirm that the police are their greatest source of harassment, assault, and rape.  Proponents of the Swedish approach mention how “pressure” is ramping up on this topic – pressure that they themselves have generated through unchallenging media coverage.  When in doubt, follow the money.  Over and over again the people fronting these campaigns are connected to industries with vested interests, radical right-wing think tanks, or anti-LGBT lobbyists.  The deputy editor for the New Statesman previously worked at the Mail and is rumoured to have subedited Jan Moir when she wrote a viciously homophobic column about Stephen Gately’s death.  Arch-feminists like Julie Bindel write for staunchly right wing, regressive magazines like the Spectator.  There’s a saying where I come from:  you got to dance with the one who brung you.  I wonder, when everyone gets to the end of their dance cards, what promises feminists have made and what obligations they’ll have to honor.

Before 2009, when I wrote books under a pseudonym about my experiences as a sex worker, there was no small amount of grumbling in the press.  After I won the Guardian Best British Weblog award in 2003, a number of female contributors to that paper signed a letter vowing that if I was commissioned to write for the paper, they would quit.  Yet I continued to believe that if they knew I was real, they would feel differently.  It’s probably not a surprise to you that I was unprepared for what any fool could have predicted would happen.  Since coming out as a former sex worker, I have been criticized for being too middle class, too well educated, too independent.  As if my very existence in sex work was, somehow, unique.  But data across the spectrum of sex work shows this not to be true.  In any case, if I admitted to a drug addiction instead, or had been homeless?  That would have been used to write me off, too.  It is bizarre to read articles by people who’ve never met me attempting to dissect this or that bit of my life.  Some lazy commentators “blame” me for the existence of other call girls, or whatever new student sex worker is uncovered by the tabloids.  As flattering as that is, it is not true.  Prostitution is called “the oldest profession” for a reason.

After a while all such nonsense became background noise.  I assumed the combined forces of feminists and the Rescue Industry had nothing worse up their sleeves.  I was wrong.  When the first edition of this book was published in Britain in 2012, it was embargoed before publication day and available to fewer than 20 people to review.  Journalists who saw the book signed confidentiality agreements.  So it was a great surprise to wake up on the morning of publication slapped with a libel lawsuit from Eaves For Women, the domestic violence charity whose hapless forays into research are touched on in this book.  If their work had been published in academic journals, anyone writing to correct their numbers would have been treated professionally, but this was not academia I was dealing with.  Obviously, I did not write anything about Eaves that could not be verified, and just as obviously, they had not been sent a pre-publication copy of the book by my publisher but had been given one by book reviewer – and Eaves board member – Julie Bindel.  The firm representing Eaves in this lawsuit threat?  The one with Bindel’s wife as a founding partner.  The Eaves claims would have been hilarious if they had not been so ludicrous.  They claimed I “hacked their servers” to get information about their income and expenditures (as with all UK charities, it’s public information available on government websites) and “broken confidentiality agreements” to discuss their research (I looked up their publications from conferences, also available online).  Their arguments depended on evidence so far-fetched it could have served as a bad science example in the book itself.  I later learned this was not the first time this had happened.  Eaves had threatened to sue so many people, so often, they even served legal threats on Bindel’s own employer at the time, the Guardian newspaper for an article by Belinda Brooks-Gordon (Bindel is no longer on Guardian staff, but freelances for them).  The intellectual dishonesty of someone like Bindel, who claims to be “silenced” and a “free speech” advocate yet uses archaic laws to try to silence opposition, is staggering.  Unsurprisingly the threatened suit was without merit and quickly dropped.

Meanwhile, the media feminists of the UK rounded on me.  Julie Burchill wrote one article claiming I was a “sex addict”, another calling me a “human toilet”, and compared me to a convicted (and executed) Nazi war criminal; this was especially offensive as I am of Jewish heritage.  The “feminist” literature magazine that published those last two tidbits claimed they did not know what the words meant.  Sorry, Mslexia, but ignorance is no excuse.  They did not apologize.  One feminist turned up at a talk in Edinburgh to shout to the audience that I was a pedophile and claim my screenshots of the Glasgow City Council’s website (showing how much they paid for anti-strip club consultations) were faked.  Others picketed talks and book signings, sent death threats, and harassed me so frequently by phone that I gave up on carrying a mobile altogether.  They contacted my former editor at the Telegraph in an attempt to get me fired – long after I’d already quit.  Few in journalism seem to care that the people doing this are all a couple of degrees of separation from known anti-LGBT and white supremacist orgs in the US.  All anyone wants is to see the naughty, naughty sex lady be punished.  They don’t care how it’s done or who does it.  This, I was told, was the price of being a sex worker in public.

Writers with the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, many of whom launched careers by harassing trans women and sex workers, also got the boot in.  Their assistant editor, Helen Lewis, sits on the board of a charity that is anti-sex work and anti-trans women.  She and other feminists joked on social media when a former partner tried to sue me for reporting his abuse (he later dropped the suit to much less fanfare).  They encouraged Breitbart to run a week-long campaign of harassment and abuse.  They egged on nasty “investigative journalist” Jeremy Duns who made sexual threats against me and my husband.  They examined photos from my escorting days, speculating on whether I was “hot enough” have been a sex worker, and speculating about what diseases I might have.  They circulated a list at public events suggesting that I and others were employed by a shadowy “Pimp Lobby” and financially benefitting from trafficking (if that’s the case, I have yet to receive a paycheck).  The laughable list, compiled by Julie Bindel, included a number of people uninvolved with sex work at all, including an artist who died in 2010, so it’s clear fact-checking is not a valued quality among these people.  The abuse peaked when they outed a trans camgirl whose Twitter account they thought had been written by me.  It wasn’t – but in the process they humiliated a woman who was not yet out to her family.  Their supposed evidence?  We both supported Scottish independence, and both, at different times, used the phrase “snake oil”.  In spite of having got it drastically wrong, no apology to the woman they doxxed was forthcoming.  Why would anyone do this?  In short, to control the narrative.

It would be unthinkable – to most people, anyway – to have a discussion about women’s rights that did not involve any women.  Or a discussion about race that did not include people of color.  But time and again when the topic is sex work, sex workers themselves are not simply ignored, they are actively excluded.  What do sex workers want?  A seat at the table.  To be able to work together for safety.  To report crimes against them without fear of arrest.  For services to be made available that are not dependent on them giving evidence against others.  To not live in fear of deportation or abuse by police.  In short:  they want the same protection under the law that any other worker can expect.  And not only is this what sex workers want, it’s what the evidence supports as best practice.  We’ve seen the benefits of decriminalization in New Zealand, in New South Wales Australia.  We’ve also seen what goes wrong in Sweden, in the Netherlands, and in the US.  International agencies from the WHO to Amnesty agree.  But this evidence-driven support for decrim hasn’t come out of thin air.  Much has been written on the disruptive effects of social media, but this much is true:  if not for the internet, people like me would never have been able to challenge the stereotypes with facts.  Marginalized people with multiple oppressions – black trans sex workers, drug using sex workers – who would otherwise fear being outed, are being taken seriously by a mainstream that otherwise would never have known they existed.  The infantilized victims who need rich white ladies to save them, it turns out, are fully capable adults who can make their own decisions and won’t hesitate to tell you that.  And that makes some folks with vested interests very upset indeed.

What happened to me was not the first nor even worst example.  Entrenched second-wave feminists in media have harassed trans politicians out of their jobs, driven black cultural commentators off of social media, and consistently outed and trashed any sex worker who crosses their paths.  Heaven help you if you happen to belong to more than one of these groups.  They reserve the worst treatment for the most marginalized, secure in the knowledge that society does not care because they told society not to.  The disinformation campaign used to sustain sex myths was a glimpse into a post-truth world where what matters is not what is right, but who can get the most money.  Some of those folks were so threatened by one woman and one book that they tried to bankrupt, discredit, and silence one blogger.  A movement backed by billions of dollars in international grants is so susceptible to people seeing the real data, they will stop at nothing to keep the truth from getting out.  And they are not interested in ethical debate; they demand that their point of view be bowed to in any discussion, even (and especially) if that means keeping the discussion centered on their feelings rather than other people’s right to exist.  They use the media not to understand, but to bludgeon.  They simply do not care if their information is incorrect.  I started off believing that open debate was the best way to win hearts and minds; I ended up realizing that some people will use that to drown out anyone who does not agree with their own intolerant, hate-filled views.  There simply is no way to have a debate with people who characterize you as an “orifice” who “should be dead in a ditch.”  There is no common ground to be found with people who willingly promote your abusers.

And yet, in all the negativity, there are signs of light.  In the years from when I was a sex worker in 2003, since I came out in 2009, and after the first edition of this book in 2012, the ground has rapidly shifted.  When Amnesty International rejected threats from famous feminists and backed the decriminalization of sex work based on the evidence, it was a win for a sex workers’ movement that far predates and will long outlast any one person.  When I gave evidence to UK Parliament in 2016, the MPs – to my surprise – took the suggestions of sex workers on board in their report, rather that listening to entrenched and well-funded special interests.  In Scottish Parliament, Rhoda Grant (who receives funding from the anti-gay, anti-abortion charity Care) has tried three times to introduce criminalization of sex work, and been defeated all three times.  Evidence really does win out from time to time; it might not seem that way in the moment, but things are changing, slowly and surely.  In 2009 and 2012, it felt as if every week brought new abuse from a media obsessed with surfaces instead of content.  So-called progressives shame and reject us, even when sex workers were early supporters of feminism, gay rights, and other movements that have since gained public acceptance on the back of that effort.  In particular, the most marginalized sex workers from black and trans communities were the ones most likely to be erased, people like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and many more.  Slowly and surely their legacy is being reclaimed, too.  The pendulum of attitudes about sex and sexuality is always in motion.  I hope that in my lifetime the burden of shame felt by so many for so long will be lifted.  With evidence and hard work we can reclaim the narrative – and take back our lives from the playground bullies of shame and fear.

Brooke doesn’t pull any punches in this new, US edition; it’s a vital debunking resource for those who support sex worker rights, and you really, really, REALLY ought to read it!

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Give up hope — we’ll find you, too!  –  Je Suis Maidan

Bad Girls 

Translation: some robbers employ female accomplices who pose as sex workers to attract victims:

Hundreds of thousands of UK ­tourists travel to Sunny Beach resort in Bulgaria, where pints are as cheap as 80p…But the flocks of drunk Brits are attracting criminals, the Foreign Office said.  It added: “Tourists are targeted by thieves and pickpockets in Sunny Beach.  There has been an increase in burglaries from hotel rooms.”  Prostitution is not illegal in Bulgaria…but it is believed [by cops] to be linked to the criminal underworld…”We’ve received numerous reports of muggings and assaults of British nationals by prostitutes and their minders…Tourists have been victims of overcharging in strip clubs [and] threatened with violence if they don’t pay”…

This scam has existed for as long as there have been cities; the Romans referred to such women as gallinae (“hens”).  To report this as “news” is like pretending the existence of pickpockets and panhandlers is.  Also:  Try buying something at any business in the US or UK and refusing to pay, and let’s see if you aren’t threatened with violence.  The fact that the thugs you’ll be threatened with in those places are more likely to wear costumes doesn’t change the fact that you’re being threatened with violence.

The Course of a Disease (#8)

A watered-down disease culture, but a disease culture nonetheless:

…[Israeli] lawmakers [who happen to have vaginas]…announced they would present legislation punishing the clients of prostitutes…as the Justice Ministry wrapped up a year-long evaluation of the issue…The issue in recent months earned overwhelming support in the Knesset, with 71 lawmakers from both the coalition and opposition lending their support…Justice Ministry Director-General Emi Palmor ruled out leveling fines against those who paid for sex, saying it was not legally viable.  However, Palmor said she was “very, very much in favor” of instituting gradual criminal penalties against those who pay for sex, beginning with a warning and building up to court-ordered “John school” attendance, and other criminal punishments…Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked…will then decide whether to pursue legislation that would both punish clients and set up [re-education] programs for the sex workers…

The Immunity Syndrome (#321)

The last “super gonorrhea” scare turned out to be bogus, and I strongly suspect this one is as well:

…the World Health Association is now warning of an globally spreading gonorrhoea superbug which is resistant to all antibiotics…Thus far there have been only three identified cases of people with a strain resistant to all antibiotics, so it’s far from too late for us to stop this becoming a pandemic, or for you to protect yourself…

Observation: three cases of a dangerous disease.  Conclusion: “globally spreading” pandemic!  Everybody panic!

Pimping the Pimp (#446) 

With her exaggerated claims, naked opportunism, and ludicrous misuse of terminology, this woman reminds me very much of Annie Lobert of “Liars for Jesus”:

Elle Snow laces up her combat boots, prepared once again, to go to war with “The Game”…says Snow…”The [sex] traffickers like to move their victims frequently so they can’t get to know anyone and it’s harder for law enforcement to track them”…Snow…says she was 19 when she was first approached by an older man [named David Bernard Anderson] who…[coerced her into prostitution]…Anderson was one of many men and women following a set of carefully laid-out rules and guidelines for how to force women into prostitution.  “What happened to me was called ‘The Game,’ this monstrous beast that is this world of sex trafficking…These guys have a complete structure, they have books, they have documentaries, they have podcasts”…Now Snow spends many of her days monitoring sex ads on online classified sites, looking for trends …”I’m looking for tattoos because traffickers like to brand their victims”…

Yes, Snow is intentionally conflating the street term “The Game” (which, like “john”, is used far more often among cops and prohibitionists than among streetwalkers, and virtually never by other sex workers) with “Game”, the pickup artist system.  Anyone who’s ever researched the latter knows that it has nothing to do with pimping, but Snow doesn’t let that stop her any more than she lets the demonstrated falsity of that tattoo nonsense stop her from claiming that.  Neither CNN nor her intended marks will bother to do any research, because they’re eager to hear more masturbatory fantasies they can pretend are about fighting evil rather than appealing to their prurient interests.

Guinea Pigs (#634) 

New surveillance weapons are usually used against sex workers first, but it never stops with us:

In late June, someone launched a website called Je Suis Maidan, identifying people captured in photographs from Moscow’s June 12 anti-corruption protest.  On July 7, the website also started identifying demonstrators who attended protests that day in regions throughout the country.  Je Suis Maidan relies on the controversial app “FindFace,” which makes it possible to find a random person’s social-media page on Vkontakte [Russian Facebook] with a photograph of that person.  Using images that appeared in the news media (including a gigapixel photograph published by the pro-Kremlin tabloid Life.ru), the website finds people through FindFace, listing their real names and Vkontakte pages…

The War Goes On (#705) 

Politicians will keep persecuting Backpage until they find a new website to demonize:

Five members of Congress who [ride anti-whore hobbyhorses]…called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal investigation of Backpage.com after a trove of documents revealed that the website hired a company in the Philippines to lure advertisers and customers…The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations…[claimed] in January that Backpage was removing offensive terms from its sex ads but allowing the ads, some with [imagined] child-trafficking content, to remain posted…

Some of the five named politicians are the same ones working to gut Section 230, thereby destroying the internet as we know it.

Business As Usual (#738) 

Even though there’s nothing here which wasn’t already covered in earlier articles on the topic (including mine), its appearance in a mainstream and controversy-averse publication like Glamour is an extremely promising sign:

There’s a heated debate going on right now in Alaska between the police department and sex workers’ rights advocates over a bill that would make it illegal for [cops] to [rape or molest] sex workers before arresting them.  If Alaska passes this bill, they’ll become the first state to outlaw any sexual contact between police and the people they’re [trying to entrap]…Advocates…[point out] that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement…that…“Such conduct is an abuse of authority and…amounts to rape and/or entrapment”…

Across the Pond (#744)

Here’s that vile use of “safer neighborhood team” to mean “vice squad” again:

After a [supposed] spike in complaints…[cops] are launching the new campaign which they hope will stop the sex trade in Redbridge…Sgt Matt Taylor…was quick to [hide the persecution behind the faddish claim]…that his detectives are targeting the pimps and criminals which organise and use the prostitutes, and not the girls themselves…“We want to [force] them…out of prostitution”…Sgt Taylor said police [pretend] the gangs are “organised”…Insp Lee Canter, the head of Redbridge Safer Neighbourhoods, commented: “I would like to send a strong message out to those who intend to use the services of sex workers as we will seek to prosecute you and if convicted your picture may be published in the local papers”…

Total Eclipse of the Brain 

Though it’s too early in the implosion to tell for sure, we may have a winner in the “stupidest gypsy whore magnet” competition:

The eyes of the world will be on Hopkinsville [Kentucky] next month when a total solar eclipse brings tens of thousands of people to the small city.  But law enforcement and activists are warning everyone of sex trafficking, a dangerous threat they hope does not become a reality…[profiteer] Amy Leenerts [claims]…“yes, it will definitely happen…it’s a human trafficking ring.  And we expect that to probably end up in Hopkinsville”…The FBI is looking into the credibility of human trafficking threats during the eclipse.  Meanwhile, the Christian County Sheriff Department is wasting no time preparing for the worst…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#755)

One way to tell a moral scold’s head is inextricably embedded in his own rectal cavity:  he claims supposed disastrous effects of whatever-it-is that are the exact opposite of those claimed by other moral scolds:

The Salvation Army has condemned…sex robots, warning that the technology could increase demand for people trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation…rather than decrease demand for real sex workers…Kathryn Taylor, of the Salvation Army’s anti-[whore]…unit said…”In the same way that pornography normalises certain behaviours, the availability of sexbots could normalise a distorted power dynamic which devalues the other person involved when transferred to human interactions.  This could encourage increased objectification of women and children and a lack of respect for their fellow human beings”…Prof Noel Sharkey…said compliant and uncomplaining sexbots could encourage objectification, abuse, rape and paedophilia…

You know, kind of like Agatha Christie novels and TV cop shows increase real crimes.  It’s funny how prudes expect everyone to believe that human beings are only volitionless tabulae rasae when sex is involved.

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Usually, when I devote a whole column to picking on a news article, it’s because said article is so hilariously bad or deeply disturbing (or both) that I can’t bear to limit myself to a quick jab of the knife in a news column, and instead prefer to lovingly vivisect it until the entire virtual room is spattered in blood.  But this is, alas, not one of those cases; the article’s author, Sonja Sharp, clearly believes herself an ally of sex workers, or is at least open-minded to the idea that sex workers deserve human rights, yet she can’t quite bring herself to shake off her childlike trust in government and her belief that cops are the “good guys”.  So what we get is an article that is generally supportive of sex worker rights, yet fails to properly place the blame for our oppression on the prohibitionists; instead, it adopts a kind of mealy-mouthed “moderation”, pretending that there is a legitimate “debate” to be had between those who say humans own ourselves and have unalienable rights, and those who pretend that individuals are owned by the State, which has the “right” to use violence to “protect” us from choices with which our owners disapprove.  There’s very little point in quoting the good parts, so I’m just going to concentrate on pointing out the bad ones.

[When] Police Commissioner James O’Neill and the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray…[announced] the NYPD would bolster the size of its vice squad in order to stamp out sex trafficking…the hope on part of some advocates was that sex workers might see relief from the pressure traditionally brought to bear by police…

I have no idea who these “advocates” Sharp refers to are, but none of them are sex worker rights activists; we know better than to harbor naive beliefs that doubling the size of a police unit could in any way signal “relief” for those the unit is specifically intended to oppress.

…a growing number of law enforcement agencies…are forming their own anti-trafficking units—often using grants from the feds—and deploying similarly gallant rhetoric despite limited evidence their arrests do much to stop exploitation…But alternatives are time-consuming and remain opaque to most law enforcement agencies, which have been deputized to fight human trafficking in part because it’s widely understood to be synonymous with illegal sex work…Modernizing their approach is still a work in progress, to say the least…

Because the writer can’t bring herself to question the institution of policing, she buys into the claim that cops are interested in “stopping exploitation”; she imagines that the idea of just leaving people alone instead of persecuting them for private, consensual activities is “opaque” to cops, rather than recognizing “sex trafficking” as a boondoggle intended to disguise the ugly persecution of sexual behavior under a mask of “helping”.  The idea that cops’ behavior needs to be “modernized” is the most asinine of all; what they’re doing now IS the modern approach, by definition, since it’s less than 20 years old.  What we really need is a return to the approach which predominated throughout most of human history: recognizing that sex work is normal and not a government matter, and leaving it the fuck alone.

…Jean Bruggeman, executive director of the national anti-trafficking organization Freedom Network USA [says] “I think in their zeal to help [cops] are doing some very wrongheaded things,” including mass arrests of sex workers and John stings using fake Backpage ads…

More exoneration of cops, pretending their abusive behavior (including surveillance, rape, robbery, brutality, destruction of homes and lives and even driving people to suicide) is motivated by a “zeal to help”.  You know, like terrorists blow up innocent people in their “zeal to help” them get to Heaven.

…In what appears to be a more concerted approach than that of the NYPD, LA Sheriff’s detectives bring an outreach worker with them whenever they approach sex workers…always offering them diversion first, before an arrest is made…”if they flat-out refuse, we book them, and then they’re sent to the appropriate court,” where they are then [forced into] a system of mandatory services…It seems like progressive approach, one most people—even those who think sex work should be legal—might be able to get behind…

Yeah, it’s “progressive” all right, considering that the Progressive movement spawned the concept of Prohibition in the first place.  To pretend that people who want to suppress consensual sex are actually trying to “help” anyone but themselves is disingenuous in the extreme, yet Sharp just can’t see that attacking peaceful people and then forcing them at gunpoint to accept the government’s idea of “help” is evil even if implemented exactly as planned, both in theory and in practice.

…demand reduction…is hotly contested among advocates and experts.  While less explicitly harmful than arresting sex workers, opponents say it does little to rout traffickers, while those who endorse it argue arresting Johns makes sexual exploitation less attractive as a business…

Aaaaaaaand I’m gonna stop right there before I am seized with the urge to disembowel Sharp along with her crappy article.  No, “end demand” isn’t “hotly contested” among anyone who actually gives a shit about human rights, nor is it less harmful than arresting sex workers (indeed, in the US it always includes arresting sex workers despite the rhetoric).  There is no legitimate “debate” over whether people own their own bodies, nor whether they have the right to consensual sex with other adult partners; pretending that there is such a “debate” is nothing more than catering to evil control freaks and sucking the dick of power.  The pretense that cops are some kind of sweet, well-intentioned social justice squad, and that it isn’t their fault the laws are bad, is so incredibly nauseating it boggles the mind.  Stories like this, written by sheltered little girls barely out of their parents’ houses, are vile apologies for evil policies that enable uniformed rapists and soft-peddle operations intended to destroy lives, enable armed robbery of citizens and increase the real “modern slavery”, mass incarceration.

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Police, perplexingly, think that [stings are] a trust-building exercise.  –  Alison Clancey

Check Your Premises

Young women are passive, doll-like “children” without will or volition until a prosecutor points his magical finger at them, transforming them instantly into evil adult “pimps”:

Two days after turning eighteen, a California woteen [sic] was sentenced to 13 years in prison for human trafficking of younger girls.  Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario…was tried as an adult…Detective Richard Pontecorvo…[fantasized while masturbating that] “These people are great at locating kids with low self-esteem…these pimps are ruining these kids’ lives at an early age”…

“Woteen”?  I’m guessing he started with “teen” and then meant to change it to “woman” so as to create an apparent age gap & thereby demonize Almario more thoroughly.  Oops!

Broken Record 

Small cities come up with the most ludicrous concepts for supposed “gypsy whore” magnets:

Tourism and hospitality industry leaders will be meeting with the [Grand Rapids, Michigan] chapter of Women at Risk International (WAR)…to [spread propaganda about]…human trafficking…Michigan is one of the leading states for human trafficking…Between 100,000 and 300,000 underage girls are sold for sex in the United States every year…And, when there are…major events like ArtPrize…cases often soar.  The conference will [subject] tourism and hospitality professionals to [propaganda claiming consensual sex]…is bad for business [and encouraging them to rat out their guests to the pigs]…

Paint By Numbers (#551)

Fanatics are running out of stupid “sex trafficking awareness” stunts, so they’re recycling old ones:

A group of three recent University of Texas graduates are…cycling their way from Seattle to San Diego, to raise awareness of the sex trafficking crisis in our own neighborhoods.  Sara Belmer, Savannah Lovelace, and Grace Pfeffer are the…members of Pedal the Pacific.  They refer to themselves as “hilariously un-athletic girls” who are [spreading tired decades-old fantasies]…about the very real [masturbatory fantasy] of human trafficking…

To Molest and Rape 

Some cops prefer to rape by proxy:

…Maria Joseph [reported]…that Ville Platte [Louisiana] Marshall Deputy Arthur Phillips forced her to have sex with another man…Joseph [was asked to go for a ride]…with Phillips [and agreed] because she “assumed it was a date”…Phillips brought Joseph to his apartment, and then “called a couple of friends…‘Chris’ and ‘Ike,’ to come over and visit.”  After asking his friends if they had any money, Phillips then proceeded to “[demand Joseph]…touch Chris”…after “she told the men she didn’t do prostitution,” Phillips “proceeded to physically push Joseph onto Chris…[then] told her to give Chris oral sex and to do it for daddy”…later…he…[forced her] to have sex with [another man named] Joe while [he] watched”…

Do I really need to say “don’t go on a date with a cop, either”?  Why are people so naive?

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#646)

It’s fascinating how much energy these fetishists expend on something that doesn’t exist:

…In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics [fantasized that] rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” [even though they actually haven’t]…robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report said…including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities…Noel Sharkey…said it was difficult to predict how far or fast the market would grow…[but pearl-clutchers pretend] that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms…

O, Canada! (#683)

Another chapter in this grotesque campaign to intimidate sex workers:

Sex-worker advocates are calling on police in British Columbia to stop participating in a…[scam] that sees [cops] pose as prospective clients and arrange dates in efforts to [intimidate] sex workers [into leaving the trade]…They…show up at the agreed-upon location…to [try to browbeat] the sex worker [into agreeing with their pretense that] she is working under coercion…advocates…call the operation deceptive, and say it erodes the already precarious relationship between law enforcement and the sex-work community…sex workers who have been targeted in these operations have described the events as frightening and traumatic…

Traffic Circle (#702)

Some cops just can’t stick with the “all whores are victims” program:

Escambia County [Florida pigs] have arrested 17 people in a two-day prostitution sting…Col. Robert Quinata [oinked that] operations such as this don’t stop prostitution in the county, but serve as a reminder to other offenders that police are aware [that human beings have sex]…he said…Escambia County doesn’t have a sex trafficking problem…as they don’t often find prostitutes working against their will…ECSO periodically uses undercover operations to target sex workers…and will continue to do so…to send a message…

Checklist (#732)

Clearly, critical thinking skills are not a prerequisite for passing nursing school:

…As president of the Emergency Nurses Association, I am calling for nationally consistent policies and clear protocols for identifying victims of human trafficking, and mandatory training of all emergency department personnel.  Those who work in healthcare, particularly in emergency departments, often encounter human trafficking victims.  Yet [we have no actual proof of that claim]…Florida and Michigan now require human trafficking training as part of their healthcare licensing processes…There are physical clues, like certain scars, markings or tattoos like the barcode I [claim to have seen, yet have no proof of]…their captors exert…[magical mind] control over victims…

Remember, there has only been ONE actual case of a barcode tattoo, in Spain in 2012, and that one was a case of life imitating art. Yet this woman claims to have actually seen one, and produces no proof.  This is exactly as credible as an Elvis sighting.

Full of Themselves (#746)

Massage parlor licensing is widely touted as a way to “fight prostitution”, despite not actually working:

A new Indiana law could [magically] bring an end to [sex work]…Massage therapists must now get a license…This October, seven central Indiana businesses were raided after [cops tricked] women [into] performing sexual acts…The Indiana attorney general’s office said the incidence of human trafficking tips quadrupled over the past two years…Not just anyone can get a license — you must be at least 18; go through 500 hours of training from an accredited school and pass a criminal background check, and exam…

The Widening Gyre (#749) 

I am so enjoying watching “sex trafficking” hysteria spin out of control of the “authorities”:

The Dubuque [Iowa] Police Department is scrambling to correct a story about an alleged abduction that got warped after it circulated through social media…on Saturday, June 24, a woman and her 8-year-old daughter were at Kennedy Mall when [the woman claims] an unknown female [of indeterminate species] began conversing with the girl, offering to buy her a gift of her choice in the store…The mother [says she] took the girl away from the unknown female and left the area…the…story was posted on social media where it was embellished and widely spread…

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Anti-prostitution crusaders behave as if we were at war over a symbol rather than discussing possible and partial solutions.  –  Laura Agustín

Check Your Premises 

Yeah, I’m sure they answered the pigs’ fake ads and said, “Hi, I’m interested in buying sex from a potential trafficking victim”.  That sounds totally legit:  “The FBI and police in St. Louis County…[claim] that [14] men contacted undercover officers….[and] were interested in paying for sex from potential trafficking victims…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Just in case you think owning a “legal” sex work business protects you:

A brother and sister were sentenced…to two years in federal prison for their schemes to promote prostitution at 10 Portland-area strip clubs and adult video stores.  Kandace Desmarias…and her brother, Gilbert “Mace” Desmarais…also were convicted of conspiring to evade paying more than $728,000 in federal income taxes by concealing $2.6 million in income from the clubs’ strip shows and prostitution.  The ringleader of the operation, their stepfather Lawrence G. Owen, 75, was sentenced in April  to two years and six months in prison…

“Ringleader”?  Seriously?  Are owners of non-sex related businesses called “ringleaders” when convicted of tax evasion?

Life Imitates Artifice (#139) 

It took four years, but eventually an Islamic theocracy followed Russia’s lead in using “sex trafficking” hysteria as Anti-American propaganda, exactly as I predicted:

[Bahram Qassemi of the foreign ministry of] Iran said…“The root causes of human trafficking lie in unilateral, interventionist and aggressive policies as well as the wars of attrition, terrorism and ethnic cleansing in which the military and security forces of America and some of its allies are involved…the U.S. government…cannot shirk its responsibility for that by playing blame games and leveling unfounded and false accusations against other countries”…

Business As Usual 

Given that cops raping sex workers is both typical and tolerated by police departments, my guess is that this dude pissed off somebody well above his pay grade:

An NYPD cop working undercover prostitution stings in Manhattan…[raped] six women…All of the[m]…illegal immigrants…[Michael] Golden would pay between $40 and $300 for the sex acts, prosecutors said.  Then, a field team made up of fellow officers would burst in and…arrest [his victim]…Under the rules, undercover cops can strip down to their underwear, but they aren’t allowed to engage in any sex acts with the sting targets…

The Hooker Vote (#615) 

Yet another Dennis Hof PR scam, because reporters are stupid enough to keep giving him free publicity:

Licensed prostitutes in Nevada…are organizing against legislation they say will devastate them, other prostitutes across the nation and their families…dubbing itself “Hookers for Health Care,” this group plans to go “on a political offensive…to stop the Republican effort.”  At the helm is Alice Little…who works…at Dennis Hof’s Sagebrush Ranch brothel…About a hundred women working in Hof’s seven brothels have already signed up to be involved with this new movement…

Are these reporters complete dolts? Are they unable to see that a real “movement” would involve prostitutes who didn’t work for Hof as well?  Are they oblivious to Hof’s unimaginative naming convention (cf “Hookers for Hillary”, “Tarts for Trump”, “Pimpin’ for Paul”)?  Why do these imbeciles keep providing free advertising for this dangerously self-centered jackass, who’s happy to get in bed with prohibitionists against sex workers who aren’t forced to give half of their income to him?

To Molest and Rape

“Forced into a sexual relationship” may be the most convoluted way of saying “raped” I’ve yet seen:

…Melissa Granados sued the Otero County [New Mexico] Sheriff’s Department…Joshua R. Sides and others…Granados [reported] that after Sides and four other [cops] entered her home without a warrant and arrested her as she got out of the shower, naked except for a towel, co-defendant sheriff’s Officer John Emory joked with Sides and others that it was “hard to handcuff her … those tits are distracting me”…The five [thugs from] the Otero County Narcotics Enforcement Unit entered her home “claiming they had an arrest warrant for plaintiff, however never produced any valid warrant to enter her home”…later…Sides told her she had 24 hours to accept his offer to work as an informant.  Granados…refused…[then] Sides [coerced] her…in[to] a sexual relationship…She arrived home one day to find him already inside, though he had no key…he…hit her and knocked her…unconscious…

The Widening Gyre (#692) 

I love watching “authorities” get caught up in their own manufactured moral panic:

A SERIAL conwoman who cost [Ireland] €350,000 in armed garda protection by posing as a child sex trafficking victim is facing up to 10 years in jail after pulling a similar scam in Australia.  Samantha Azzopardi…who is now 28…[is] accused of obtaining €13,500 worth of services from the state and charities by pretending to be a 13-year-old Sydney foster child…named Harper Hart…court documents…cite…her “extensive history of providing false documentation, obtaining passports in false names and assuming identities of other persons” in Queensland, Western Australia, Ireland and Canada…

The Widening Gyre (#697)

Those who don’t remember the height of the Satanic Panic may be surprised by this level of lunacy:

Alex Jones…interviewed Robert David Steele, a man whose Wikipedia page lists him as “an American activist and former Central Intelligence Agency clandestine services case officer.”  Steele laid out a strange theory that suggested NASA not only has secretly sent humans to Mars without anyone knowing about it but that…“There is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space…once they get to Mars, they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony…Pedophilia does not stop with sodomizing children…It goes straight into terrorizing them to adrenalize their blood and then murdering them.  It also includes murdering them so that they can have their bone marrow harvested as well as body parts”…

Checklist (#713) 

Just in case you didn’t think you were spied on enough in airports:

…the House’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill…would require new mandatory training for all “ticket counter agents, gate agents, and other air carrier workers whose jobs require regular interaction with passengers” on “recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking victims”…federal agents have already been training flight attendants and other airline personnel on how to “detect” human traffickers or trafficking victims on their planes…There is no evidence these efforts have actually yielded any trafficking busts—which shouldn’t surprise anyone not immersed in some Taken-style fantasy…A heightened sensitivity to anything out-of-the-ordinary—which in the United States can still mean interracial families or a child traveling with two fathers—means a propensity to profile passengers based on stereotypes…Airline Ambassadors International, which often works with government officials on sex-trafficking awareness training, suggests that “children and young women traveling alone” should be considered suspect, as should people who say they are adults but have “adolescent features”…

Interview:  Laura Agustín

Another interview with Dr. Agustín about The Three-Headed Dog:

Why should acknowledgement of structural inequalities mean victimising those less equal?  I’ve never understood that.  Unequal in terms of money and power does not mean unequal in agency, connections, street-smarts or guts…The focus on inequality leads logically to self-positioning as a helper – the Rescue Industry.  And if helpers believe everyone must want to be in their original homes, it leads to deportation…

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Rarely on this side of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea are we blessed with propaganda so divorced from the surly bonds of reality that it sails upward, ever upward, into the realm of surrealism.
–  C.J. Ciaramella

The past few weeks have been rather dry in the interesting link department; I reckon it’s because the clowns performing on the national stage are even more buffoonish than usual, and their pratfalls are taking attention away from murderous cops, the weird behavior of Floridians and the like.  But there was a sudden upswing in sex work stories last week, so we’ll see where this goes.  The video is just here to make Grace smile (it was her birthday last Wednesday); she also provided the first link, and the others above the video are from Popehat  (“Gygax”), Tushy Galore (“NONE”), Eddie J Cunningham (“ill”), Radley Balko  (“together”), and Wendy Lyon (“functions”).

From the Archives

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