Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

I can’t breathe.  –  Darius Robinson

A couple of nights ago I was reminded of this Sesame Street video, in which the Muppets teach children about tolerance toward the diversity of human sexual response.  The links above it are from Popehat (“faking”), Tim Cushing (“Batman”, “pulp” and “12”), Franklin Harris (“paradise”), Mike Siegel (“rescue”), Grace  (“jailers”), and Radley Balko (“confirm” and “donuts”).

From the Archives

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Given…that criminalization discourages us from helping, trusting, or even communicating with each other…creating a community of people who reject the stigma surrounding this work is an act of rebellion in itself.  –  Annie Calhoun

The Slave-Whore Fantasy IS slavery app

It’s been a while, so here’s another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous:  A girl for sale is “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old…. Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”  The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear.  It was shared with the Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.  While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves.  In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, IS sells the women like chattel on smartphone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their “owners” to prevent their escape through IS checkpoints.  The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up…

Check Your Premises

I’m not going to expedite cops’ shaming people, but this jewel of self-contradiction was too good to pass up:

…Narcotics Detective Kim Lippincott…says prostitution is a huge issue in Monroe County. She has a message for any “john” paying for sex.  “The sex you are engaging in, the sex you are paying for, may not be as consensual as you think it is”…Detective Lippincott says the three women arrested for prostitution worked independently.  No traffickers were arrested…The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office says the big bust is part of a larger effort to combat human trafficking…

Across the Pond

While Parliament contemplates repealing some of the laws cops use to persecute sex workers, some UK “authorities” are demonstrating how ineffective that will be without full decriminalization:

…[Funding for] Open Doors, a pioneering NHS sex worker support service…has been cut substantially and…National Ugly Mugs (NUM)…has expressed “grave concern for the safety of sex workers in Hackney,” describing the changes as a “seismic shift towards criminalisation … recklessly compromising [sex workers’] safety and ignoring national guidelines.”  Until 2014, Hackney authorities worked in partnership with Open Doors to keep street sex workers out of the criminal justice system…As a result, sex workers had more trust in the police…The picture now is very different. NUM data shows a “startling decrease in the numbers of Hackney sex workers willing to report crimes to the police,” says Alex Feis-Bryce…of NUM…Sex workers are increasingly subject to enforcement by the police and local authorities in the form of dispersal orders, fines and even prosecution…local authorities have asked Open Doors to hand over their clients’ names to an “enforcement panel”…[Georgina] Perry, Open Doors’ manager of 13 years, has announced her resignation…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#27)

Another small country stands up to American bullying:

Sudan…criticized being placed by the United States on the blacklist countries involved in human trafficking, saying the report [was] “biased and intentionally distorting [sic]” Sudan’s efforts to combat human trafficking…The report mentioned unverified reports about South Sudanese children sold for agricultural work…[and] accused the Sudanese army of recruiting children aged between 16-17 years…It further said that asylum seekers from African and Arab countries are “highly vulnerable” to sex trafficking and forced labor…Sudanese law enforcement agencies are accused of being involved in this criminal activity…

And other kinds of small jurisdictions, too:

…the government is whole-heartedly rejecting…a recent report from the U.S. Department of State regarding the condition of human trafficking globally.  The report, which gave Macau a serious “Tier 2” rating…was criticized for its “wrongful conclusions” by Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak…“Findings in the report are not based on fact and involve groundless speculation”…

Against Their Will (#310)

The Philippine government has carried out a weird crusade against “cybersex” since it was criminalized four years ago; some stories cast the sex workers as depraved and some as “victims” or even “children”, so it’s very difficult to discern what the truth might be in a story like this:

A British national was charged…with large-scale human trafficking involving seven women and for having in his possession pornographic materials that he produced and created, with intent to publish and distribute them to online customers…The Prosecutor’s Office also indicted [Wade] Allsopp for cybersex…Two laptops that contained photos of women in different age brackets who were either posing nude or clad in skimpy attires were also found in the scene, along with several sex toys, pieces of lingerie, gadgets, and instruments apparently used for pornography.  The rescued victims…claimed they met Allsopp through Facebook and that he allegedly recruited and offered them a deal where he would assist them in finding foreigner husbands allegedly on the condition that they would submit sexy and nude photos of themselves…[to be] downloaded and viewed in a dating website…

The End of the Beginning

More articles like this, please:

…the sex offender registry…was designed for “sexual predators” who repeatedly preyed on children (at least according to the fears of 1990s policymakers).  The purpose was supposed to be not punishment but prevention.  The theory:  Sexual predators” were unable or unwilling to control their urges, and the government could not do enough to keep them away from children, so the job of avoiding “sexual predators” needed to fall to parents…Twenty years later, the focus on sex crimes has shifted from sexual abuse of children to sexual assault and rape…Yet the…registry is still going strong.  It hasn’t worked as a preventive tool.  Instead, it’s caught up thousands of people in a tightly woven net of legal sanctions and social stigma.  Registered sex offenders are constrained by where, with whom, and how they can live — then further constrained by harassment or shunning from neighbors and prejudice from employers.  Some of the people on the…registry have had their lives ruined for relatively minor or harmless offenses; for example, a statutory rape case in which the victim is a high school grade younger than the offender…

Rubbing Elbows

A nice article on the Desiree Alliance conference, which starts tomorrow in New Orleans, in the local alternative paper:

…This will be the first time the Desiree Alliance convenes in the South…Organizers see the…conference as vital to a region and city with social justice issues that pertain significantly to sex workers.  Local escort Annie Calhoun…[of] SWOP-NOLA…says, “I hope that sex workers of all types from the area are present, and that they see the amazing community of people who are on our side”…What has steadily driven sex workers’ rights before the public eye…is the persistent efforts of sex workers to make their voices heard, their humanity acknowledged and their civil and labor rights honored.  Calhoun believes some of the progress made is, ironically, a response to journalists like New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, “who have built careers on the idea that sex work can be reduced to the idea of big bad men exploiting poor women — a classic evil villain/innocent victim dichotomy”…

Ashley Madison (#571) 

Sweet, sweet schadenfreude:

The parent company of infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, hit by a devastating hack last year, is now the target of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation…the closely held company is spending millions to improve security and looking at payment options that offer more privacy.  But it faces a mountain of problems, including U.S. and Canadian class action lawsuits filed on behalf of customers whose personal information was posted online, and allegations that it used fake profiles to manipulate some customers…An Ernst & Young report…confirmed that Avid used computer programs, dubbed fembots, that impersonated real women, striking up conversations with paying male customers.  Avid shut down the fake profiles in the United States, Canada and Australia in 2014 and by late 2015 in the rest of the world, but some U.S. users had message exchanges with foreign fembots until late in 2015, according to the report…

O, Canada! (#617)

Most of this is the creepy, US-style “sex trafficking hub” bullshit we’ve come to expect from Ontario government, but note this especially nasty little bit of agency-negation:

In many cases of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, trafficked persons may develop “trauma bonds” with their traffickers, and may not view themselves as victims.  As such, human trafficking is believed to be a vastly underreported crime.

How convenient; it basically translates to “anybody we claim is a victim is one, regardless of what she says.”

To Molest and Rape rapist cop Tramaine McCray

There’s a short, concise word for “forced to have sex”; funny how reporters can’t seem to remember it when cops are the perpetrators:

[Orange County, Florida sheriff’s deputy] Tramaine McCray was arrested…after a male prostitute said he felt forced to have sex with McCray and feared he would be arrested if he did not…McCray…admitted to having multiple sexual encounters with prostitutes…A second prostitute came forward and said…McCray showed up at his apartment several times and asked for sex, deputies said.  At one point he said McCray said, “I am the police and nobody would believe you over the police.”  During questioning, McCray [admitted to raping]…multiple…male and female prostitutes between March 2014 and June 2015…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#642) 

Dr. Marty Klein on the recent upsurge in anti-porn hysteria:

Marty Klein likens the current moral panic around online porn to the epidemics of fear and suspicion that sprung up around satanic cults in the 1980s, and even around comic books in the 1950s.  Pornography, he argues, is simply a catalogue of human sexual fantasies, and for most people, those fantasies have very little predictive value when it comes to real desire.  The most crucial thing people can do when it comes to protecting their children, according to Klein, is to inform them that porn is fictional…Klein issued a list of porn literacy checkpoints for parents to go over with their kids that includes emphasizing that most people don’t have bodies like porn performers, that many recurring images in porn…are theatrical devices and don’t reflect what many men and women want from sexual encounters, and that most women don’t want violence or rough play during sex.  But he decried common assumptions that watching pornography leads to sex addiction, or cheating, or degrading and abusive treatment of women…

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Tracy’s community…turned away from her in an inane focus on protecting the look of the gates rather than the garden that thrives beyond them.  –  Maya Yonika

Couples David & Jenni Heckendorf

A disabled Australian couple gets help from a sex worker:

…a…fall had long-lasting consequences on Jenni’s health generally and on our sex lives.  Her prolonged and mostly unsuccessful recovery resulted in Jen having further reduced mobility in and out of bed.  It meant we had to take extreme care not to touch or bump her foot…We tried different toys and different positions without joy.  Two years after the fall we were at a point where we had to make a decision to either give up on enjoying sex or to investigate the possibility of allowing a third person into our bed…we arranged for sex worker, Joanne, to begin working with us.  With each visit we had to remind ourselves that she wasn’t there to make “love” to us.  Rather, in the same way that our support staff ensure that we remain in good physical health – by showering, feeding, and dressing us – Joanne helps us to maintain good sexual health…we successfully approached the ACT government to extend the funding of our disability care support to cover these conjugal support services.  In December 2015, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) agreed that, in our situation, a modest allowance for conjugal support service would be reasonable and necessary…

Lack of Evidence

It appears to me that the cops have no actual evidence:

A North Augusta [South Carolina] woman has been arrested on multiple charges of Prostitution.  Kristen Perry…was arrested [April 6th and]…is facing 21 charges of Sex/Prostitution 1st Offense.  She is accused of placing ads on Backpage.com between December 2015 and February 2016 offering sex for money…The ads contained sexually suggestive photos and language…The ads were accompanied by a phone number confirmed to belong to Perry…The IP address from which the ads were posted was traced back to her residence…

A good lawyer should be able to beat this easily; if anyone knows her please ask her to call me (email me for the number).  I definitely want to help her if possible.  Arresting escorts based solely on ads is an extremely dangerous precedent that cannot be allowed to stand.

Where Are the Victims?

There weren’t any actual victims, but we just have to cage people, because SEEWEEUSS UFFENSE!

Chunjie Wang…of…Dublin…organised four brothels…for seven months..[in] 2011…Judge Melanie Greally noted the case did not involve the trafficking or exploitation of prostitutes…but…said the seriousness of the offence meant a custodial sentence was unavoidable and sentenced Wang to 18 months imprisonment…

It Looks Good On Paper

Adult sex trafficking victims who get caught working as prostitutes could receive immunity from prostitution under a new Nebraska law…Nebraska already provides legal immunity to juvenile sex trafficking victims…”  Except that as I’ve explained many times, these laws are nothing but Potemkin villages, empty legal husks designed to please the ignorant while actually sparing virtually nobody from the injustice system:

…Wisconsin…advocacy groups…want to pass what is known as “safe harbor” legislation, which prohibits prosecuting individuals under 18 for prostitution…Republican legislators who fear it will hinder law enforcement’s ability to intervene and help trafficking victims…Minors can complete a program or other requirements in exchange for a dismissal of the charge, or they can admit to charges but assert they were being trafficked at the time…Proponents believe that by refusing to prosecute minors, law enforcement will be able to establish trust and gain access to information that will allow them to more successfully prosecute traffickers…Custody may also be necessary to ensure the child does not return to his or her trafficker…

Translation of that last part: “Authorities” want to be able to lock up minors indefinitely and subject them to coercive interrogation tactics in order to prosecute others in their place.

Big Sister

The Swedish model is based in xenophobia, and it shows in rhetoric designed to rationalize its failure:

Ever greater numbers of tourists in Iceland…are feeding into the market for prostitution…Snorri Birgisson of the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police [pretends] “It is usually foreigners visiting Iceland for a short time”…It is [fantasized] that prostitutes who come to Iceland are “managed” by somebody and transported from country to country…

The Last Shall Be First 

One battle in the bathroom wars has just ended.  Or maybe a truce has been hammered out for the time being.  The U.S. 4th Circuit Court has ruled in favor of a female-to-male trans student who was banned from using his school’s boys bathroom…the…Court, whose rulings also cover North Carolina (site of a contentious new law covering similar issues)…has ordered the lower court to hear his discrimination lawsuit…Go here to read recent Reason musings on North Carolina’s new bathroom law…I’m willing to bet the farm that even within a few years, if not sooner, we will all look back on the absolute panic evinced over the issue of unisex bathrooms and wonder just what the fuck we were all smoking…

Above the Law  

Roanoke [Virginia cop Francisco Alberto Duarte] is awaiting trial on a felony count of forcible sodomy“, and in Louisiana, “A Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s deputy has been fired [and criminally charged] after he was accused of inappropriately touching a woman…Cody Onxley…called the woman and went to her house under false pretenses.

Broken Record

Farm machinery causes “sex trafficking”!

…[cops] have also found victims at this year’s National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and expect to find others at the Kentucky Derby…traffickers…stay mobile, moving victims from city to city to major sporting and entertainment events…truckers are getting the word out through the national campaign Truckers Against Trafficking, with an event this weekend at the Kentucky Exposition Center…the truckers…are in a position to spot victims at convenience stores and truck stops, popular spots for traffickers…

Under Every Bed

It’s weirdly fascinating to watch small cities insist that they’re just as infested with bogeymen and imaginary victims as cities with much larger populations:

…slavery…still exists.  Even in Spokane.  The reasons for this, [prohibitionists pretend], include Washington having an international border and a large seaport [and] many diverse immigrant communities…Because of the I-90 corridor, Spokane gets a lot of traffic and homeless in the area…former madam Cheryl Larson [lied that]…one girl could make $10,000 in a weekend during Bloomsday…

Note the racism, interstate highway nonsense and outlandish claims about income.  That article ends with an appeal for amateur surveillance, as does this one:

…[Cops] in Springfield say the western Massachusetts city is beginning to see a noticeable rise in human trafficking…Jamie Bruno spoke before the Springfield Violence Prevention Task Force…to [pretend] that human trafficking has become a problem in the city and is expanding…Bruno says it’s pivotal that parents are aware of what their children are doing with friends…

Business As Usual

I smell a rat.  What probably happened here is that some cop raped a sex worker in a particularly violent and/or loathsome way and they’re trying to paper it over with a “policy”:

…Cleveland Police have been told to temporarily stop making prostitution arrests…[because] the Department is suddenly developing a new policy.  The memo says, “All prostitution (sex for money) related Vice enforcement shall cease immediately…Advise your Detectives under no circumstances shall they have a suspected prostitute get into a vehicle with them or have any physical contact with…Police…We are formulating a policy that will cover procedures for these types of details”…

Remember, the actual policies don’t make a difference because even when raping whores is expressly forbidden, cops just do it anyway and then claim they didn’t.

All-Purpose Excuse

It’s especially good for money grabs:

Nine hundred police officers have taken part in a raid on one of Germany’s biggest brothels in Berlin, making six arrests over alleged human trafficking and tax fraud.  The operation follows months of investigation into the Artemis brothel…[whose] managers are accused of evading some €17.5m (£14m; $19.7m) in social security payments since 2006.  Prosecutors allege that staff at Artemis were forced to pretend to be self-employed to avoid the payments…

In case you’re bad at math, that’s 150 cops per arrest, ten times the number NOPD used to arrest me.

The Face of Trafficking

What a large-scale, organized forced prostitution scheme actually looks like:

In a case involving 75 female victims, Syrian women who were promised well-paid jobs in restaurants and hotels in Lebanon were locked up upon arrival in two hotels north of Beirut and forced into prostitution.  Some of the women reported being forced to have sex with up to 20 clients a day, and those that refused to work as prostitutes were repeatedly raped and tortured until they submitted…On March 27, Lebanese security forces raided the hotels, detaining eight guards and setting the women free from the Chez Maurice and Silver Hotel in Maamelteine.  The three-story Chez Maurice had the look of a prison, with bars on the balconies and windows, and a whip lying visible on one of the guards’ tables.  The health ministry has also sealed a clinic belonging to gynecologist Riad al-Alam, who authorities say performed abortions for the trafficked women who got pregnant.  The women have said they were not allowed to leave the clinic except to have an abortion…

Remember, fetishists pretend this sort of thing is common worldwide, even where there isn’t social chaos precipitated by war.

Size Matters (#619)

An excellent essay on the Tracy Elise case:

…Five years ago, Tracy was…the [focus] of a six-month long undercover prostitution investigation of what was then known as the Tantric Temple of Phoenix Arizona.  [Cops] fully armed with riot gear and machine guns, raided the space and arrested Elise along with several other women…Tracy was thrown into jail without trial for the following two years, her bail set at a million dollars…Tracy’s case is inexorably woven into some of the most pressing and cutthroat social biases of our day when it come to sex and relationship.  These biases hold us so powerfully within their grip that if one so much appears to cross the line, we’re perfectly content to quietly dismiss a woman like Tracy while she faces a potentially lifelong jail sentence…the…need to belong innately necessitates an “other”… that thing that separates “me” from “them”…as news of the Phoenix raids came to light, the bulk of western Tantrics, in order to uphold their personal ideals and image, turned away from Tracy and her case.  A woman who calls herself a “Tantric master” even spoke out against Tracy on a major news channel in her effort to “protect Tantra’s name”…

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You take a lot of steam out of the “not representative” argument…when you have…escorts in North America…advocating the same message as devadasi sex workers in India or bar hostesses in Kenya.  –  Anlina Sheng

Check Your Premises

Reading the self-contradictory sexual fantasies of prohibitionists makes me feel like I need a shower:

Last year, Rockford [Illinois vice pigs] arrested 95 women…and two men…[but in 2015 they] arrested 18 women…and 41 men…[then pretended this was some kind of “progress”.  Deputy cheif pig] Doug Pann [vomited out the lie that] “No one chooses to be a prostitute.  At some point in their life, they were forced or coerced into this lifestyle.  The people causing the harm are the pimps and johns.”  Pimps are men who control women who sell their bodies…[prohibitionist] Jennifer Cacciapaglia [profits from the state persecution of sex workers]…Chief Deputy [Pig] Mark Karner said….”you cannot paint with a broad brush prostitutes as victims”…police have to respond to complaints from neighbors who see a woman standing on a street corner…[bigots whine] about “bringing down my property values, bringing crime to my neighborhood.”  Cacciapaglia [denies sex workers’ humanity and agency, claiming instead]…”those women would not be there if the men were not buying them”…Pann said…police need the cooperation of prostituted women to go after pimps, but the women won’t talk because they fear being abused…pimps are “vicious monsters, incredibly dangerous,” Cacciapaglia said…

See No Evil Mathilde Grafström photo

In case you think Denmark’s “sexually liberal”:

An exhibition combating negative self-image in a square in Copenhagen has been closed down by police.  Photographer Mathilde Grafström snaps women who don’t have traditional model looks, for a photo series called Female Beauty…Police have denied permission for her photos to be displayed in Copenhagen’s Nytorv square, with Grafström filing a complaint against them and condemning their view of the female body as “offensive”…

The More the Better (#32)

Perhaps one day we’ll arrive at the point where, “She was so desperate to raise money she got a better job!” sounds as ridiculous to most people as it does to me:

Megan Clara, 20, says she was gutted last year when her son Ashton, five, complained that he didn’t receive the same expensive presents as his mates.  The single mum, who survived on £80 a week…vowed to make Christmas 2015 one to remember – and has spent the year making adult films, earning £500 a scene, to give her family a five-star festive celebration…

Japanese Prostitution (#131)

a decades-long standoff over Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s WWII military…[was settled on December 28th]…Both sides compromised…so no one got everything they wanted.  Nationalists in Japan are angry over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s apology.  Some South Koreans say President Park Geun-hye settled for far too little money – about $8 million – and that Japan still hasn’t taken legal responsibility for atrocities during its colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945…tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.  But only 46 known former Korean sex slaves, most in their late 80s and 90s, still live, and with time running out and with frustration growing, this deal is seen by many here as the best to be had from a hawkish Abe government.  “Insisting that Japan take legal responsibility is the same thing as saying we don’t want to resolve the issue of comfort women,” said Jin Chang Soo, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think tank, who called the deal an important step forward…

Ad Absurdum

An 18-year-old “man” and a 17-year-old “girl”.  SHAZAM!

Authorities arrested an 18-year-old man…for promoting the prostitution of a minor…Philip Scott Pleasants took a 17-year-old girl to meet different “Johns,” or clients, in [North Carolina]…Pleasants was [caged]…in the New Hanover County Jail under a $250,000 bond…

Cuckoo Advertising

Will gullible reporters ever stop publishing Ashley Madison ads for free?

Ashley Madison claims it has added 4 million members…since a hack on the adultery dating site revealed the identities of thousands of cheating spouses…A rolling count on the homepage claims it has more than 43 million members, up from the 39 million users counted when the site was hit by a group of hackers dubbed the “Impact Team”…the site [also] had 70,000 fake female profiles used to lure men to pay fees for credits on the site.  Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company, has not commented on the hack since an August statement and would not comment on the new numbers…

Paint By Numbers

Why do anything special? Just pretend your unsold product “raises awareness of sex trafficking” and watch the profits roll in!

Elisa Wolcott…a University of Nebraska at Omaha art major…has cast, fired and sanded 2,000 ceramic birds in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Nebraska.  Her project, “2000 Souls,” is meant to represent the number of women across the state who have been forced into prostitution.  While numbers [don’t exist]…the Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking [decided to pretend]…that at least 47 school-age girls — and likely many more — become victims of sex trafficking in Nebraska each year…her goal was to display the birds in a public setting.  She landed on the airport as her ideal venue.  It’s a place where people come and go by the thousands, where a constellation of birds suspended in air will draw attention…and where, perhaps, [she might make a lot of money from a moral panic]…

Naked Truth (#401)

Drawing BloodIf you want to understand the state of the sex trade…in 21st century America, look no further than the following books.  All published in 2015, they offer inside glimpses of the personal and political aspects of sex work…in ways that are both entertaining and enlightening…I surveyed some current and former sex workers about what they’ve been reading recently, too…”  The list includes Coming Out Like a Porn Star by Jiz Lee, Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple, Saloons, Prostitutes, and Temperance in the Alaska Territory by Catherine Holder Spude, $pread:  The Best of the Magazine that Illuminated the Sex IndustryBest Sex Writing of the Year edited by Jon Pressick, Prose & Lore (issue 5) by the Red Umbrella Project, and Love Not Given Lightly by Tina Horn.

Not Your Rescue Project 

Sex workers…have formed such a vibrant, vocal part of the internet that it’s hard to imagine an online world without them.  And with that visibility has come a reduction in the stigma related to sex work.  After all, it’s a lot harder to assume that sex workers are mindless, manipulated fuckbots when they’re tweeting thoughts on feminism, racial justice, or the newest Star Wars film…sex workers…handily dismantled the myths and misconceptions that pop culture had fed me over the years.  For many years, I felt a bit alone in my sex work wokeness.  Most of my friends…seemed to harbor [a] rather antiquated…attitude that…sees sex work as abuse rather than legitimate employment.  But lately it’s felt like something has changed.  Over the course of 2015, sex workers have repeatedly been in the media…In fact, when millennial icon Lena Dunham came out against Amnesty International’s support for the decriminalization of sex work, she was excoriated in the media—the same media that, several years earlier, might have applauded her for that very stance…Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are helping a whole new generation learn about the ins and outs of the world’s oldest industry…

License to Rape (#562)

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by cops at will:

A video uploaded to Facebook shows a gang of cops from the Fort Myers Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office brutally violating a man on the roadside, after pulling him over for a rolling stop.  Screams of agony can be heard echoing from the trees as the man’s arm is twisted almost to the breaking point and his rectum is invaded by the gloved hand of a drug war enforcer.  The cops can be heard saying, “Stop resisting! Just relax!” as the victim continues to scream and kick in pain.  Five officers are initially involved in subduing the man and searching his vehicle, and then another joins the fun by posing with gun in hand facing the onlookers…the anal cavity search was carried out in full view of the public, including a female onlooker…Todd Crisp, a family member of the victim, said that at least one of the cops, Arturo Gonzales, routinely harasses Crisp and his family, and this was just the latest episode…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#575)

According to Hong Kong “authorities”, I operate a “brothel”:

…Sex work in Hong Kong is legal, if it is practised in one room with one person only and nobody else but the sex worker profits from the exchange.  This means that sex workers cannot have managers or security personnel.  The places where they work are called one-woman brothels.  Foreign sex workers cannot work with a tourist visa – they are often detained as they breach a condition of their stay by working without the appropriate permit.  Waiting for clients on the street or soliciting money for sex services is also illegal, and that may include anything from a verbal offer to gestural insinuation, or even just eye contact…[on September 17th] police arrested 62 alleged prostitutes from mainland China and Taiwan…for [such technicalities]…Pang Wing-chau…is a volunteer working with Zi Teng, a sex workers’ support association.  “Although police operations happen on a regular basis, there were more raids than usual in the last three months because of…the District Council elections…politicians ask the police to do more arrests just to get votes”…

Stupor Bowl (#593)

The “gypsy whores” myth has been so discredited, politicians can’t even get reporters to parrot it any more, and so must write their own propaganda:

Early next year, Super Bowl 50 will come to Santa Clara.  With increased tourism, we predict a spike in human trafficking…it’s estimated that 40 percent of the human trafficking activities on the West Coast come through the Bay Area airports…A shadow network shuttling women, men, girls, boys, even babies…trafficking is an estimated $150 billion industry worldwide, exploiting nearly 21 million victims around the world.  It remains the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise…we have the capacity and the capability to stop such atrocities from happening in our own backyard…it is only a matter of time until we eradicate human trafficking…

Served Cold (#595) 

Despite the ICE, the odor of this is unmistakable:

Two Utah nonprofit organizations raised money to help an international group of law enforcement officials arrest child sex traffickers in Peru…Dan Baird…of Crack the Crowd [claimed without presenting evidence that]…”A total of 36 people were freed from slavery, including 11 children; two of those were 4 years old and 7 years old, I mean really young kids”…Some Utah police departments regularly work to rescue victims through undercover child sex trafficking stings…”The ability for us to remove victims from their circumstance and [lock them up]” said Sgt. Jason Ackerman [in a sentence fragment]…Ackerman oversees undercover sex trafficking operations…monitoring child sex trafficking rings in “public hotels, they are out of houses and on the streets”…

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I have never met anybody who says there will be a day when no one is selling sexual services for money. You will never stop it.  –  Jean Urquhart

Think of the Children! 

No doubt the child was contaminated with sex rays!

A Scottsdale, Arizona private school kicked out a five-year-old boy the day before starting kindergarten…because his dad once worked in porn.  Jay Grdina is now a millionaire CEO of Dolce Bevuto…But before moving into the “lifestyle beverage” industry, Grdina ran the website ClubJenna.com with ex-wife Jenna Jameson…Grdina no longer works in the adult industry, and he also remarried (model Erin Naas) and had two children. Grdina told TMZ that the family enrolled their son Jayden at Scottsdale Christian Academy (SCA) in May after a six-month process of applications and interviews…

Enabling Oppression

I’m glad more people are seeing how loathsome it is for prohibitionists to link sex work to historical American black slavery:

For anti-prostitution campaigns pushing for the criminalization of the sex industry, “slavery” has been decontextualized from Black struggle and repurposed to describe [sex work]…Mobilizing slavery in this way has always seemed a deeply disrespectful appropriation of Black suffering, disrespectful both to our deceased ancestors and to our still-endangered lives as Black folks.  But by hijacking the terminology of slavery, even widely referring to themselves as “abolitionists”, anti-sex work campaigners have not only (successfully) campaigned for funding and legal reform; but they do so without any tangible connections to historical or current Black political movements against state violence.  Indeed in pushing for criminalization, they are often undermining those most harmed by the legacy of slavery…

End Demand

I’m rather glad to see the return of “criminal whore” rhetoric:

…Fall River…stings were sporadic and usually only targeted the would-be customers.  “That’s the wrong approach,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel S. Racine said…undercover [pigs] are now frequently, almost on a weekly basis, driving unmarked vehicles while patrolling areas known for prostitution activity…looking for both the street prostitutes and the johns, and arresting them.  “We’re looking to deter prostitution on both ends, the supply and the demand,” said Racine, who acknowledged that the police department will not completely eliminate what is often called the world’s oldest profession…[a clueless business owner] said…“A lot of the customers are from out of town, and I don’t want to give them that image of Fall River, as if that’s the type of neighborhoods we have, because it’s not”…

In other words, he wants “that type” of neighborhood “cleaned up” so as to prove it never existed.

Pearls Firmly Clutched Fast Girl

Her escorting was “caused” by being bipolar?  Really, Suzy?

…Suzy Favor Hamilton…was a three-time track and field Olympian who had been featured in magazines and who also had a loving family – so fans were shocked in 2012 when she was outed as a high-end escort in Las Vegas.  In her new memoir, Fast Girl, Hamilton says that her bipolar disorder, which had not yet been diagnosed, caused her shocking behavior.  “My bipolar was driven toward sex.  It could have been driven towards drugs and alcohol, or gambling.  I found sex was the biggest high to fuel my mania, which is common with bipolar people,” Hamilton tells People

Catastrophic Consequences (#407)

Jean Urquhart, MSP moves beyond merely “calling for debate”:

Sex workers and charities across Scotland are rallying behind an MSP’s proposal to decriminalise prostitution in the country…HIV Scotland and NUS Scotland have championed the MSP’s consultation, as has Scot-Pep, the sex worker-led charity that advocates for the safety, rights and health of people who sell sex in Scotland…The proposed bill would permit sex workers to work in groups of up to four…laws against soliciting and kerb-crawling would be scrapped…Sex workers would also be permitted to have joint finances with family members or flatmates…

Above the Law (#418)

The French just love these massive DNA fishing expeditions:

…as part of a probe into the rape of a Canadian tourist at police headquarters in Paris…all 120 police officers and civilian staff who were present in the building on the night the rape took place…are being tested over three days…Investigators are trying to find a match for a so far unidentified DNA sample taken from sperm found during the victim’s medical examination…

Last time it was even worse.

Now They Notice

The [Rentboy] crackdown may have felt unprecedented to some, but it’s the public’s response that’s new.  When law enforcement targets sex workers and the websites they use, mainstream outlets and organizations tend to give them a pass.  But with Rentboy, that script has flipped…media and advocacy groups who don’t typically bring a political analysis to sex work responded to the raid primarily as an anti-gay attack, while also calling for an end to the policing of sex workers.  Some American LGBTQ organizations in particular have rallied around the political nature of the raid—in a way women’s rights groups in the United States, when women sex workers are targeted in similar raids, have not.  In fact, it might be the relative silence of women’s rights groups on the Rentboy raid that has provided space for sex workers’ rights to become the main focus of the story…

Ashley Madison (#567) Asley Madison bot tool

It seems I wasn’t the only one who had Ashley Madison pegged as a scam years ago:

…Ashley Madison created tens of thousands of fembots to lure men into paying for credits…To the Ashley Madison “guest,” or non-paying member, it would appear that he was being personally contacted by eager women.  But if he wanted to read or respond to them, he would have to shell out for a package of Ashley Madison credits, which range in price from $60 to $290.  Each subsequent message and chat cost the man credits.  As documents from company e-mails now reveal, 80 percent of first purchases on Ashley Madison were a result of a man trying to contact a bot, or reading a message from one…company executives were in a constant battle to hide the truth.  In emails to disgruntled members of the site, and even the California attorney general, they shaded the truth about how the bots fit into their business plan…

Now They Notice (#567)

Why the fuck are some gay dudes so totally fucking clueless, and announce their ignorance so loudly?

The Rentboy raid sparked a conversation among LGBT organizations who noted that similar, heterosexual-geared sites advertising escort services did not meet similar fates…Sasanka Jinadasa…[of] HIPS, Inc…[says] “Targeting sex work is an indirect way of targeting the LGBT community without calling it outright discrimination”…Becky believes regulating the sex industry…would provide more protection…[Nick] Kinkand…[bloviated] “A lot of people’s biggest complaint about sex work is the fact that there are these women or children that are being trafficked into the country to do this…If it were to become legal, it would reduce that, because…instead of going to…the street corner where these people…have diseases or something, I can go to a reputable place and see a reputable person”…

The most astonishingly-stupid statement in all that astonishing stupidity is the idea that straight escort sites aren’t targeted by cops.

A Load of Farley (#570)

Hilary Hanson of Huffington Post is beginning to distinguish herself as an ally:

Men who pay for sex may be more inclined to sexual violence and have less empathy for women, according a study that made headlines last week.  But…the study’s lead researcher was Melissa Farley, founder and director of…a nonprofit with the stated goal of abolishing prostitution.  The research was funded by a grant from Hunt Alternatives, a private organization with the stated goal of “combating the demand for purchased sex”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what can I do for you?”

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

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

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

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

“So…what do you plan to do about it?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Does anyone know where you are right now?”

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

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

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

“I’d simply drug your drink.”

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Governments need to be reminded (at least annually if not constantly)…that [their] overthrow…by a disgruntled minority is always a possibility.  I would like to see most if not all politicians and their minions paying for their power and privilege by being forced to live in a constant state of nervous anxiety.  –  “Guy Fawkes Night

I only call myself a libertarian because it’s the only popular term which has some general resemblance to the way I see the world.  Technically, what I am is a minarchist, someone who is to an anarchist what an agnostic is to an atheist; I’m also more or less an agorist.  But use either of those terms to most people, even to many libertarians, and you’ll be greeted with blank stares; I had to add both of them to the Microsoft Word dictionary while writing this.  For most uses, “libertarian” is good enough, though it means that I have to endure opprobrium from semi-literates who write for sites like Think Progress, Alternet and Salon and seem to believe that “libertarian” means “caricature of a fundie plutocrat” or even “whatever I don’t like”.  The demonic misnamed “libertarians” in these yahoos’ tiny minds are like cartoon distortions of Ayn Rand characters,Gilded Age political cartoon mustache-twirling (excuse me, “beard-stroking”) villains who are perfectly happy with the system except insofar as their own power-plays are disrupted by the good, noble, valiant white knights in government.  Not counting the cops and the military, of course; those are bad parts of government, totally and completely disconnected from the good parts who only try to “help” people by telling them how to live, why to fuck, whom to associate with, where to shop and what to eat, wear, buy, watch, say, do and think.  Said directives are of course implemented by laws (for our own good, naturally) and enforced (look carefully at that word) by the cops they pretend to disapprove of and locked up in the prisons run by powerful crony-capitalist corporations they pretend to hate (in Facebook posts made on their iPhones).

In truth, I’m as far from many libertarians (especially Libertarians) as I am from most Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Socialists; the main difference is that the vast majority of libertarians, no matter what their flavor, respect my right to have different beliefs from them and different opinions about which issues are most important.  And that makes them in my estimation vastly better human beings than those who assert the right to ownership over my person, my time and my effort, even if I disagree with them on a lot of issues and just can’t get terribly excited about the trials and tribulations of people who’ve made more money since breakfast than I will in my entire life.  One important way, perhaps the most important way, in which I differ from most libertarians (especially Libertarians and “libertarian-leaning” anybodies) is that I do not believe our current system is salvageable.  Unlike most people, I harbor no delusions about American exceptionalism and no 21st-century chauvinism; I refuse to comfort myself with the childish belief that the culture and time in which I live is magically different from all others that have gone before, because of God or science or “democracy” or “feminism” or mass communications or what-have-you.  As a pragmatist and a student of history, I recognize that all cultures  – every last stinking or shining one of them – are as mortal as the humans who build them, albeit on a slightly larger time scale.  No culture is immortal; all of them are born, grow, mature, sicken, decline and die, usually over a period of a few centuries to a millennium at best.  And pretending that wholly different cultures are the same merely because they occupy the same territory and call themselves the same thing is as absurd as insisting that Elizabeth II is actually Queen Victoria.  The United States of history, the patriotic fiction to which so many believe they owe fealty, is as dead as the dodo; it was born with an ugly birth defect which doomed it from the start, and the monstrous doppelganger which grew like some loathsome fungus inside of its carcass would not be worthy of saving even if that were possible.  Nor are the majority of modern Western nations any better.

I’m not calling for a revolution; I’m saying that a revolution is inevitable, whether we like it or not.  The powerful have made it inevitable, despite the best efforts of those philosophically-inclined revolutionaries we call the “Founding Fathers” to minimize the extent to which the power-hungry could take control over the less-able, less-connected, less-ambitious and less-evil.  They wanted to make it impossible for anyone to gain very much power over anyone else; they failed.  It was partly due to the toleration of an institution in which one human being could literally own another (the birth defect to which I alluded earlier), partly due to oversights and errors in the legal instruments they created, and partly due to new and horrific disguises for totalitarianism developed by successive generations, but mostly due to the fact that what they wanted was flat-out impossible; any system of government can and will be remade by the evil to give them power.  Last December, Clark Bianco of Popehat wrote a powerful polemic about what our system has become; in it he refutes the common argument that the system is “broken” (which implies it can be “fixed”, a contention he and I both deny).  It’s well worth your time, but here’s a sample:

Twenty years ago I was a libertarian.  I thought the system could be reformed. I thought that some parts of it “worked”… whatever that means.  I thought that the goals were noble, even if not often achieved.  The older I get, the more I see, the more I read, the more clear it becomes to me that the entire game is rigged…the system is not reformable.  There are multiple classes of people…the bottom of the hierarchy…can, literally, be killed with impunity…Next up…are…regular peons…[who] can have our…rectums explored at the roadside…because the cops got permission from a dog…Next up…are the…disciplined-voting-blocks…[then] the cops…judiciary and…prosecutors…and…at…the [top]…the true ruling class: the cabal of (most) politicians and (some) CEOs, conspiring both against their own competitors and the public at large…The system is not fixable because it is not broken.  It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives, and to shove the regulations, the laws, and the debt up the asses of everyone else.

Burn it to the ground.

Burn it to the ground.

Burn it to the ground.

The fires have already started, though the Powers That Be are expending considerable effort to extinguish them while simultaneously denying that they exist.  Sooner or later they will develop into a conflagration which will consume the current edifice; with any luck those who next build on the site will be able to salvage a few sound parts of the old structure to incorporate into the new one.  Maybe the next experiment will get a bit closer to the goal and last a bit longer before it, too, degenerates into tyranny.  But history teaches us that is rarely the case; things have indeed slowly improved over the ages, and there’s no reason to suspect that trajectory will change.  But the improvements always come from virile young cultures learning from the mistakes of the old ones, not from moribund old ones too obsessed with past triumphs to bother gazing upon their own decaying visages in the mirror of time. burning capitol

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