Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Hooker Vote’

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…

Read Full Post »

Can you tell me why I am imprisoned like this if I’m the one who was wronged?  –  Jasmin, Bangladeshi sex worker

Against Their Will

It’s for their own good!

…when I first arrived at one of the most well-known “rescue and rehabilitation” centres for women and girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was immediately struck by the iron bars on all the doors and windows.  A number of female security guards paced up and down the dark hallways.  The atmosphere in the building was a far cry from what the NGO staff at the main office had described as an “oasis of freedom from violence and degradation”…this organisation [was reputed to be]…committed to women’s economic empowerment [and]…was widely acknowledged by national and international funding agencies…In the weeks and months that followed, my conversations with the young women whom the shelter labelled as “trafficking survivors” revealed that…their “rescue” had…led to another series of experiences of coercion and disempowerment, this time perpetrated…by their “rescuers”…

The Last Shall Be First

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that politicians can’t get their minds out of the toilet, given the contents of their heads:

The South Dakota state legislature…passed a bill that would require public school students to use the bathroom, shower and locker room that correspond to their biological sex.  If Gov. Dennis Daugaard…signs the bill, as expected, South Dakota would become the first state to enact such a law.  The bill has provoked outrage from gay and transgender rights activists, who say it discriminates against transgender children.  They say that it could put schools at risk of lawsuits; in 2014, the Education Department issued guidance finding that Title IX…requires that students be permitted to use facilities that match their gender identity.  But the bill’s proponents [pretend]…that the legislation…respects privacy while also meeting the needs of transgender students by requiring [them to be singled out by using] private facilities, such as a teacher’s or nurse’s bathroom…

Pyrrhic Victory

All too often, evil arrives cloaked in the mantle of expediency:

School lunch lines in the UK can be fraught: students receiving free lunches may not want their peers to know, lost payment cards mean some go without, and code-based payments leave children at risk of “shoulder surfing”, where others spot their number and use it to buy their own meal.  Fingerprint scanners are being presented as one solution for doing away with this stress…biometrics company BioStore [says] “Biometrics can’t be lost or forgotten, stolen or used by someone else…this improves a school’s safety”…The Department for Education doesn’t track how many schools use biometric systems, but in 2014, campaigning group Big Brother Watch estimated that more than a million secondary schoolchildren had handed over their fingerprints…Add in other new technologies such as wearables, and civil rights campaigners fear the result is that surveillance is quietly being normalised in children from a young age…

King of the Hill

The only thing more ludicrous than big cities competing to be “sex trafficking hubs” in the US is small cities competing to be the top “hubs” in their states:

The Newport News Department of Human Services…held a community [panicmongering session]…about human sex trafficking…Lt. Michael Hudgins…said Hampton Roads ranks number three for hotspots for sex trafficking in Virginia…

Above the Law (#132)

Three years. That’s how long it took them to bring this to trial:

Two [LAPD pigs] have been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting several women…The men threatened their victims with arrest…and [raped] at least some of the women in the back seat of the unmarked police car they drove together…Luis Valenzuela…and James C. Nichols…face more than a dozen felony charges, each stemming from allegations they preyed together and alone on four women from late 2008 to 2011…They [vaginally raped some and orally raped others]…Valenzuela also is accused of assaulting one woman with a gun.  The charges carry a possible punishment of life in prison…

Under Every Bed

A “sex tourism destination” about an hour’s drive from Chicago.  And they’re serious.  “Prostitution has long been an issue in the City of Rockford.  Academic studies, news reports, and anecdotal evidence show Rockford is a popular sex tourism destination for men all over the stateline…”  The rest is just typical “end demand” filth and gloating about how much money they’re stealing from men.

Stupor Bowl

Even papers skeptical of the “gypsy whores” myth often accept the larger “sex trafficking” mythology:

…much like the myth of a Super Bowl sex trafficking boom, [the FBI’s] “success” isn’t so convincing once you peek behind the numbers.  The FBI arrested 12 pimps, “made contact” with 129 prostitutes, and busted 85 johns…during the two weeks preceding Super Bowl Sunday…Crime statistics can be malleable — and trafficking statistics especially so…not all the victims were trafficked.  [FBI mouthpiece Bertram] Fairries [said]…some of the 129 prostitutes the agency “contacted” were just independent sex workers conducting business as usual.  But much like the SFPD, which counts every sex worker it encounters as trafficked, the FBI considers all prostitutes “victims.”  According to FBI spokeswoman Michele Ernst, the only sex workers arrested were those who directly helped recruit or pimp other victims.  Strangely, the FBI claims it doesn’t know how many that was…

Bread and Circuses 

“Authorities” don’t care how many sex workers are hurt or killed in furtherance of their show:

Law enforcement in the Seattle area seized thereviewboard.net, a website where local sex workers posted advertisements and clients reviewed their services.  In related police raids, people who ran and moderated the site were among those arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, a felony.  That was just the most recent salvo in what human rights advocates call an “ongoing war against sex” under the guise of fighting sex trafficking.  Last August…officials in New York City shut down the gay escort site Rentboy.com and charged seven of its employees with promoting prostitution and laundering money.  Earlier in 2015, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., pressured MasterCard and Visa to stop processing financial transactions for backpage.com…And in 2014, federal authorities shut down myRedbook.com…These closures represent a crusade to stamp out advertising outlets for sex workers.  But that’s not how law enforcement portrays it.  They [pretend] to be fighting sex trafficking…Shortly after the Seattle raids, for instance, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said that his men, working with the King County Sheriff’s office and the FBI, had broken up a “well-organized ring promoting sex slavery.”  Likewise, the Cook County sheriff called backpage.com a haven for pimps and traffickers.  There’s one big problem with that narrative: There’s little evidence that these web sites abet sex trafficking.  But we do know that shutting them down these makes life more dangerous for sex workers…

Challenge (#524)

Court delays favor the rich and powerful, so this is unsurprising:

A sex worker’s legal challenge to a new law criminalizing clients in Northern Ireland was put on hold after a last-minute intervention by Stormont’s First and deputy First Ministers.  Laura Lee issued unprecedented judicial review proceedings in a bid to quash [the] legislation…But the case was adjourned…after a judge was told Attorney General John Larkin QC has been instructed to oppose her challenge on behalf of Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness…Justice Maguire requested full reasons for an intervention made on the eve of the hearing…[saying] “This application…has not been accompanied with any clear or cogent explanation as to the course of events”…

The Hooker Vote (#530) Hookers for Hillary

Actually, “Hookers for Hillary” doesn’t speak for any sex workers, much less “all”; it’s just a Dennis Hof PR scam:

The organization Hookers for Hillary…organized by Dennis Hof…is back in the news…with a major profile in The Guardian…other sex workers were skeptical of their motives…Anna Saini, an advisory board member of Best Practices Policy Project…said that Hookers for Hillary…“sounds like a mouthpiece for the Ranch owner, Dennis Hof…I’m certain Hillary Clinton has driven more people into the sex industry than any pimp or trafficker.  The policies that Clinton proactively supported—pushing people out of public housing, dismantling welfare, discriminating against formerly incarcerated people—have produced economic circumstances that force people into survival sex”…one of Hookers for Hillary’s key points on their website [is]…“Nevada’s mandatory testing of legal prostitutes for sexually transmitted diseases is a successful example of effective government regulation…responsible government oversight is a key to protecting the public’s health from widespread disease.”  Saini called this aspect of their campaign “particularly appalling,” since it’s “an oppressive policy that is universally opposed by sex worker activists”…

Tyranny By Consensus (#568)

Is Michael Weinstein’s bizarre one-man crusade against porn over at last?

Cal/OSHA did not pass proposed regulations for the adult industry…that [would have required] safety goggles, condoms and dental dams in pornographic movies produced in the state.  The decision…brings to an end a years-long debate over instituting stricter workplace regulations around the potential transmission of sexually transmitted infections in the adult industry…AIDS Healthcare, the primary supporter of the proposed rules…[pretended] the amendments [would not] require goggles…[even though] the text of the rules states that “the employer shall provide … appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with [bodily fluids] is reasonably anticipated, eye protection”…

Challenge (#582)

This good article on the challenge to California’s prostitution laws also contains a short profile of escort and activist Kimberlee Cline:

…Mother.  Traveler.  Activist.  And, in the eyes of the law, a career criminal who’s one encounter away from arrest and exposure…she’s represented by interest, if not name, in a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s anti-prostitution law on constitutional grounds…The courtroom drama…pits sex workers and their advocates against more than a century of morality-minded prohibition laws.  An up-or-down ruling has the potential to reverberate throughout the country…

Bell, Hook and Kettle (#609)

There’s a word for collaboration between government and private corporations; it’s “fascism”:

…Budget cuts forced [the Tucson, Arizona Police Department] to disband the vice unit years ago, but more than $700,000 from a three-year federal grant will provide money and resources to once again [harass and persecute sex workers and clients…pigs] have already made more than 100 arrests since the program started seven weeks ago…Only three people have shown an interest in receiving any sort of support services.  [Only] one…actually accepted them, but…she left after a couple weeks…[mystifying people too stupid to understand the concept of “bills”]…That’s where agencies like Gospel Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army come in…Myrna Garcia…said…“This collaboration is awesome”…

Read Full Post »

The war on sex offenders poses perhaps the greatest political challenge for those seeking to dismantle the carceral state.  –  Marie Gottschalk

Divided We Fall

Gay folk who promote anti-whore crusades are about the sleaziest sleaze there isanti-whore queers

A Kiwi couple needs public help in a quest to take part in a…bootcamp which would help their dream of putting a stop to the forced sex trade industry.  In 2013 Xavier Hartstonge and partner Jesse North created the not-for-profit organisation SweatsHope with the vision of halting the forced sex trade industry in…India…Six people will be selected to receive an all-expenses paid trip to…spend two weeks working with a business coach, life coach and personal trainer…The organisers hope to turn it into a reality TV show.  Hartstonge…says we all know the sex trade is happening, yet we choose to close our eyes…“It’s about empowerment, showing these women they do have the choice and no longer have to do this…It’s modern day slavery and should no longer be tolerated”…

Yes, that’s a gay man demonizing a kind of sex he isn’t interested in.  Breathe deep of the putrid stench of that irony.

The Hooker Vote

The fact that Hof endorsed Ron Paul in ’12 should tell you that this has nothing to do with the candidates’ actual positions.  From a press release that was probably sent to everyone who blogs on sex work:  “Prostitutes at Dennis Hof’s…Moonlite Bunny Ranch…announce their support of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign…” The so-called “Hookers For Hillary” campaign’s embrace of “health care reform” seems primarily an attempt to demonize “illegal” sex workers by casting us as vectors of disease who need to be micromanaged by the benevolent state and licensed pimps like Hof lest we spread plague like a host of scarlet-clad Typhoid Mary Magdalenes.

Shift in the Wind

Is Al Jazeera swinging away from anti-whore hysteria again?

…Because sex work is legal in Ecuador…are, for the most part, allowed to conduct their work openly, without fear of being arrested. In other cities such as Kampala, Uganda; Manila, the Philippines; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Islamabad; Skopje, Macedonia; and Kiev, Ukraine, where it is illegal, sex workers conduct their work in the shadows, which makes it more likely that they will be subject to violence and limits their power to negotiate safe sex…For refugee sex workers in particular, an arrest for prostitution could jeopardize their asylum claim or result in deportation.  The high stakes of getting caught thus force them to take even greater risks, such as working alone or on the least safe stretches of road…refugees, notably those clustered in cities, often engage in sex work.  But international institutions need to do much more than just turn a blind eye to this informal form of employment.  By publicly acknowledging refugee sex workers and establishing support protocols, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations could help them do their work more safely and ensure their rights — to health, information and dignity — are respected…

Worse Than I Thought

Landlords of massage parlors, spa managers and even motel managers who knowingly allow prostitution on their premises could face prison and fines under [new Rhode Island laws]…The pandering law…would be amended to include those who allow prostitution on their premises, because they derive money from the illegal activity.  That includes landlords, managers, owners of spas or businesses, or any other place where commercial sex is practiced or allowed.  Under both bills, the penalties for a first offense would be one to five years in prison, and fines between $2,000 and $5,000…

It’s like they’re competing with each to see who can inflict the most mindlessly-draconian sentences:

People who solicit prostitutes would face increased penalties under a bill that [unanimously] passed the Florida House…The penalty for a first offense would increase from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor.  A second offense would be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a third offense would be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison…

Amsterdam (#45)

Dutch “authorities” outlaw more aspects of sex work, then feigning surprise when the number of illegal whores increases:

The number of licensed brothels and escort agencies in the Netherlands fell to 674 in 2014, compared with 1,127 in 2006…The figures also show six out of 10 local authorities have no licensed sex business within their boundaries….researchers say the decline may be due to the rise in the online sex industry…Justice minister Ard van der Steur says it is difficult to get a grip on the size of the unlicensed industry but that exploitation, human trafficking and forced prostitution are a serious issue…

Chauvinism

You’ll notice that none of these laws really affect picket-fence queers:

…Gay rights groups have made great strides in repealing anti-sodomy laws on federal and state levels, and these efforts should be commended.  And yet, prosecutions for sex crimes are growing faster than any other type of crime, with an exponentially rising rate of arrests and convictions.  Gay men are arrested in cruising stings, HIV-positive men are sent to prison for merely being sexually active, and sex workers and clients are arrested for victimless crimes.  Much of these prosecutions disproportionately affect queer folk, despite advances in civil rights for LGBT people.  Have the baldly homophobic laws of the 20th century really gone away? Or are they merely being repackaged and rebranded for a more gay-friendly public?…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Read this essay by rapid neofeminist Sarah Ditum, keeping in mind that the source of all this bile is that a man went to a strip club:

…Lapdancing is a kind of entertainment that trades on power — men’s power over women, the economic supremacy that gives men the disposable income to buy a woman right out of her clothes, the ritualised submission of the naked women pantomiming sexual frenzy for the men in suits, the little assertions of possession that comes every time a man crosses the line and puts his hand on the skin he’s paying to see. Feminism is the politics of rejecting men’s power over us.  Not eroticising that power, not exploiting it to rinse a little cash benefit out of our own inferiority, but refusing it…Ask…how feminism can tolerate any [sex work]…

First They Came for the Hookers…(#341)

Licensed strip clubs are no longer allowed in Saskatchewan, but the government says it will make an exception for charitable events once a year.  Premier Brad Wall announced…that his government would reverse its decision to allow licensed strip clubs because of concerns about human trafficking and sexual exploitation…

Sex Rays

the Dutch central bank has fired a 46-year-old female employee claimed to have been working after hours as a highly paid prostitute – specialising in sadomasochism.  The woman, who had been with the central bank for eight years…had allegedly been offering her services under the name “Conchita van der Waal”, advertising under the motto: “the kinkier the better”.  Ms van der Waal also offered to engage in sexual role play…one of the roles in which she was photographed online was that of an SS commandant…the…bank’s code of conduct…forbids “indecent behaviour” – and stipulates that no employee should act in a way which could harm the reputation of the bank or lead to negative publicity…

Catastrophic Consequences

Sex workers in Edinburgh are facing increased health risks following the controversial police crackdown on saunas…Fewer women are attending the specialist NHS clinic set up to support them – and…sexually transmitted infections have increased.  Sex workers are also giving up on condoms, with saunas refusing to stock them because police can use possession of them as evidence of selling sex…many women had moved away from saunas and now operated from other venues, like flats or lap-dancing bars…

The Missing Word

The US’s current anti-trafficking policy…produces a tangle of finite good and possibly infinite harmful effects…stories of “sex slaves” produced by some advocates and propagated with alacrity by the media and accepted by…US law makers—has permitted…an incoherent spectrum of immigration and criminal law enforcement operating without much critical oversight, let alone public understanding…the media here [follows a]…template of treating exploited (male) workers as migrant labours while reserving the term “trafficking” for (female) “sex trafficking victims”…

Guinea Pigs Motel 6

Pay attention to this: a motel chain is systematically ratting out guests to cops:

The popular hotel chain, Motel 6, has recently decided to partner with the police to violate the rights of their guests.  Without the consent of the guest, or even informing them whatsoever, Motel 6 employees will now turn over the guest information to the police, who will then run a background check on the subject…I highly doubt that all, or even 10%, of the 1,100 Motel 6’s in North America have a huge sex trafficking problem. I doubt many of them have real “major” crime issues at all. Yet, Motel 6 is allowing the police to run the names of all their guests, regardless of probable cause, incident, or reasoning…

Guest Columnist:  Kaytlin Bailey

There’s the old chestnut that’s supposed to help you relax in front of an audience, “imagine them in their underwear,” and its dark twin — the classic nightmare of being naked in public.  For comedians, the Naked Comedy Showcase provides a chance to experience both scenarios…According to New York host and producer, Kaytlin Bailey, “It’s a rush…there’s something about being in the survival mindset and that amount of adrenaline that really brings the performer in to the room and they’re present from moment to moment and that’s great to watch.”  The brainchild of Boston-based comedian, and nudist Andy Ofiesh, Bailey took over hosting and producing duties in…2014 and has been playing to standing-room-only crowds ever since…

Read Full Post »

That is not a just government where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.  –  James Madison

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been publishing quite a few miscellanea and update columns; since last May, I’ve had about 4-6 columns of that sort every month.  Besides getting more reader submissions than I used to, I’ve also become better at finding articles myself.  So rather than concentrating them together, I’ve decided to spread them out throughout the month.  This will therefore be my last monthly miscellanea column; starting tomorrow I’ll present “That Was the Week That Was” every Saturday, except when it’s bumped to Friday or Sunday by some special circumstance.

Out of the Bedroom

Civil libertarians often say we want government out of our bedrooms, but here’s a politician who wants people out of their bedroom clothes:

…Michael Williams (of Shreveport, Louisiana) doesn’t care to see people in their PJs, at least not at a shopping center, restaurant or anywhere else in public…after seeing a group of young men at a local Walmart wearing pajama pants that revealed one young man’s private parts, he decided to push for an ordinance that would prohibit wearing pajama pants in public.  “Pajamas are designed to be worn in the bedroom at night,” Williams said.  “If you can’t (wear pajamas) at the Boardwalk or courthouse, why are you going to do it in a restaurant or in public?  Today it’s pajamas,” Williams said.  “Tomorrow it’s underwear.  Where does it stop?”

…One problem with a possible ordinance is what constitutes pajamas.  Williams said it could be defined as a garment sold in the sleepwear section of department stores, and violators should not go to jail but perform community service…The city of Shreveport [already] has a no-sagging law.  In 2011, Shreveport police reported 31 incidents involving “wearing of pants below the waist in public.”  Most of those were unattached to other more serious crimes, and the offenders were issued misdemeanor summons…

Unsurprisingly, Williams can’t see the irony in his own words:  if we let politicians control the clothes we wear, “Today it’s pajamas…Tomorrow it’s underwear. Where does it stop?”  I personally think pajamas in public are extremely déclassé, but so are sweat pants and nobody’s trying to make laws against them.  Perhaps Williams would be happier in France, where lots of politicians think they have the right to tell people what not to wear.

The Hooker Vote

One day, politicians may actually concern themselves with winning the support of sex workers, but for the present the easiest way to get the hooker vote without losing that of the moralists is to point at that the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate private behavior:

…Ron Paul can count on support from some members of the world’s oldest profession as he campaigns for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Prostitutes at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch…have launched a “Pimping for Paul” campaign for the Texas libertarian, who backs their right to earn a living as working girls…The Bunny Ranch ladies are asking johns to donate money to Paul’s campaign as they leave the brothel, which also backed Paul’s presidential bid four years ago.  Though Paul hasn’t commented on the brothel’s latest drive, his spokesman told the Associated Press in 2007 that “while Paul does not personally condone prostitution, the candidate does not think it’s the role of the federal government to regulate such activity.”  During a 2012 GOP candidates debate in May, Paul said that states should be free to legalize prostitution, gay marriage and marijuana if they choose to do so…U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada’s senior senator, told the state’s legislature last February “the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution,” which Reid said discourages businesses from moving to the state…

While I don’t vote and I’m not going to endorse any political candidate, the civil and sexual rights of American citizens will probably be less endangered under a Paul presidency than under a regime headed by of the other current candidates, especially Obama, Romney, Santorum or Gingrich.

The Mother Learns From Her Children

It’s beginning to seem as though the United Kingdom might be starting to learn something about sex worker rights from two of her former colonies.  Like New Zealand, she may be moving in the direction of decriminalization.  And as in Canada, the reason for the shift is the realization that the laws endanger the safety of sex workers.  This article appeared in The Guardian on January 16th, and came to my attention via Harlot’s Parlour:

A series of gang attacks on brothels in east London has triggered calls for changes to the prostitution laws after victims who reported …robberies said they ended up being threatened with prosecution.  A police investigation has been launched as senior Labour and Conservative members of the London assembly and the English Collective of Prostitutes allege that violent crime is being given a lower priority than less serious sex offences.  The attacks highlight the growing debate over calls for New Zealand’s pioneering decriminalisation of sex work to be considered – an approach recently supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

…a spate of robberies…coincides with an increase in police raids…The first…was in Barking, east London, on 6 December.  A video showing five men…breaking into another house in the area being used by sex workers is also being studied by officers.  The women who made the first complaint allege they recognise some of the gang members from the YouTube clip.  In a third attack, at a different address, a woman who worked as a maid at a brothel is alleged to have been raped by the gang.  None of the victims there reported the offence for fear of being charged…with living off the proceeds of prostitution…The ECP said changes to the law, in response to fears over the forcible trafficking of foreign sex workers into Britain, have made it more difficult for women to work together…for safety.

A letter of complaint sent…[to the police by ECP activist] Niki Adams…[said] “We are receiving reports of incidents where women have been attacked and their attackers have told them brazenly that they know women won’t dare go to the police.”  Adams believes there may have been as many as 20 attacks in the area over the past two years…Last November Simon Byrne, Acpo’s lead officer on prostitution and sexual exploitation, suggested there was a need for a fresh look at the legal balance…”There is a great amount of academic research available, much of which supports the view that an alternative approach is needed,” he wrote on his official Acpo blog.  “An example would be the decriminalisation and regulation of brothels in Australia and New Zealand, not an answer to all of the related issues but certainly a solution to some.  More of those involved in sex work in Australia and New Zealand can now access health services with ease, whilst maintaining more personal security in an emotive area for policing.”

Another proponent of reform is Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London assembly.  “The law is framed so as to put women [sex workers] into the most vulnerable position,” he said.  “The changes brought in by the last government seemed to [be derived from] the view that every single worker in the sex trade was trafficked.  People are not willing to come forward over these attacks.  When they report them, the women themselves have had action taken against them…”  Len Duvall, the leader of the Labour group at the London assembly, said:  “We need to examine in greater detail information and case studies from those countries that have sought to legalise prostitution, including the model put forward by New Zealand, especially if it provides a degree of protection for sex workers and reduces crimes associated with prostitution…There is also evidence that crimes against sex workers are being ignored”…Tim Barnett, the British-born former New Zealand MP who pushed through his adopted country’s decriminalisation legislation in 2003, was in London before Christmas where he briefed Boff and Duvall…

There’s definitely cause for hope here.  American politicians can ignore New Zealand as an antipodean anomaly, but if Canada and the UK also decriminalize it’s going to be a lot harder for American prohibitionists to convince everyone that theirs is the “normal” view.

One Year Ago Today

Maggie in the Media” is a description of all the interviews I gave last January, mostly on the subject of nonexistent Super Bowl prostitution booms.

Read Full Post »