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Posts Tagged ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’

We wanted to show the world that we are not the image they have of us.  –  Maria Elena Davila

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Liz Brown tackles the myth that porn has become mostly violent & “misogynistic”:

…the ostensible rise of rough porn is just a symptom of a larger truth: that there’s more porn of all kinds out there.  More female-produced and women-friendly porn.  More lesbian porn aimed at lesbians, not straight men.  More “radical transgender kink.”  More political porn parodies.  More “amateur” porn studios.  More web-camming sites.  More web-savvy women making money on their own websites and social media accounts.  More virtual reality porn and gadgets.  More fetish porn of all sorts.  And so on.  This not only means that there’s more erotic entertainment out there for a diverse range of tastes, it means we see a much more diverse range of people represented in erotic entertainment…

Crying for Nanny

Another attempt to rob a business using “sex trafficking” hysteria as a weapon:

…a…The teen’s lawyers are using Pennsylvania’s human trafficking law to sue the motel where they say their client was sexually exploited, marking the first civil suit under the law since it was enacted in 2014…Lawyers [fantasize] employees at the Roosevelt Inn in northeast Philadelphia knew that a 14-year-old girl was being held against her will for two years.  She was forced to have sex with more than 1,000 men for as little as $50, they said…The lawsuit demands $50,000 in damages…the girl managed to escape and…those responsible…were convicted…[yet] her attorneys…declined to identify her captors, [supposedly] fearing retaliation…prosecutors [fantasize the motel is]…“the epicenter of human trafficking” in the city…“You have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to know that 100 men are showing up over a period of a couple days,” says [shyster] Tom Kline…“You have a cleaning crew that comes into the room and oftentimes finds boxes or waste cans full of use condoms…You can’t have a line of johns out the front door and around the room waiting without them knowing,” Kline said…

So 1000 over 2 years (about 1.4/day) comes to “100 men…over…a couple days”, 1 constitutes a “line out the front door”, 2 condoms makes “a waste can full” and and average of $70/day is enough to pay for a hotel room, food & other expenses and still leave enough profit to justify the kind of risk involved in pimping a minor. Gee, math is hard.

The Last Shall Be First 

Badass woman uses her badassery for justice:

Anti-trans activists in Washington State have been trying to tell cisgender women for more than a year that we ought to be afraid of transgender people using the bathroom.  This is the main marketing behind I-1552, a proposed ballot initiative from anti-trans group Just Want Privacy that attempts to repeal state anti-discrimination protections for trans people and mandate that public schools keep trans students out of bathrooms that correspond with their gender.  But it appears that Just Want Privacy’s latest fear-mongering effort has backfired.  Last week, the group tried to use the story of Kelly Herron…who was allegedly attacked by a man in a Golden Gardens bathroom, to promote their anti-trans ballot measure in a fundraising e-mail and on Facebook.  Unfortunately for Just Want Privacy, Herron has now spoken out against their campaign.  “To the people behind I-1552, I say ‘not today, mutherfuckers,'” Herron said in a public statement…”I refuse to allow anyone to use me…to cause harm and discrimination to others”…Herron was attacked in a public…bathroom on March 5 by Gary Steiner, a 40-year-old registered sex offender from Arizona [who as the picture shows is neither trans nor dressed as a woman to get into the bathroom]…

I saw these sleazy fucks trying to trick people into signing their trash several times last year.

Watershed

To the coming generation, bigotry against sex workers will be as vile as bigotry against queer people is to the young people of today and bigotry vs racial minorities was to the previous generation:

…We can’t forget that those who make decisions about female sex workers’ rights are often powerful, privileged men.  They paternalistically presume to know what’s best for women…[they] quip that “women deserve better” while simultaneously being the ones who oppose legislation funding education, job training, welfare and other programs to uplift poor women…the issue is…also that the mainstream media have seized the narrative around sex work from the workers themselves and failed to include their real concerns…those who claim to be feminists…argue that discussions of sex work disempower women.  But frankly, who gets to define empowerment to women without your same economic privilege and access to education, whose sole means of survival are a profession you would rather turn a blind eye to?…

Whimsical Notions

Wait, you mean healthy young men in an ultra-masculine profession can’t merely be ordered to be asexual?  Who’d have thunk it?

The head of the US Marines has vowed to hold service members accountable for sharing nude photos of their female colleagues online.  Gen Robert Neller promised to change the Marine culture while testifying before a Senate committee.  Last week, reports emerged that current and former Marines were sharing [nude] photos [of women] on Facebook and on message boards, triggering a Navy investigation…The [Facebook] group, which included around 30,000 active and retire male marines, has now been closed down…The Marine Corps has the lowest percentage of female members among the five military services.  Women make up about 7 to 8% of all Marines…

An Example to the West (#544)

A new documentary about the Nicaraguan sex workers accredited by the government as “judicial facilitators”:

In most countries around the world, sex workers are criminalized by police…In…Nicaragua, sex workers are replacing police…French filmmaker Florence Jaugey released a documentary about the Sunflowers of Nicaragua, a woman-led sex worker collective serving as community mediators…In 2009, members of the Sunflowers…began organizing against discrimination and violence within their communities…with the intention of gaining…trust…in order to win mass support for their primary demand:  the judicial integration and unionization of sex workers across the country.  Their strategy worked.  In 2015, Nicaragua’s Supreme Court of Justice asked members of the collective if they wanted to work as judicial facilitators in Managua…Now, the sex workers are accredited and have licenses signed by the Supreme Court of Justice to mediate small conflicts in their communities…The Sunflowers…has also been accepted by the socialist government’s Confederation of Self-Employed Workers, granting them legal union status.  The collective, which aims to organize Nicaragua’s estimated 14,000 sex workers, has recruited 2,300 thus far…

Between the Lines

The amazing Liz Brown, queen of sex worker allies, delivers up a long and thorough takedown of the FBI’s annual “Operation Cross-Country” pogroms, backing up what I’ve been saying for years about these skeevy, prurient, horrifyingly-wasteful intimidation theatrics with facts, statistics and detailed analysis:

…sensationalized montages of footage from the stings, which the FBI has been proudly posting to YouTube since Operation Cross Country launched in 2008…show authorities handcuffing young people, mostly women and girls, and parading them down dim hallways, thick gloved hands gripping skinny arms on either side, or pushing them up against cop cars, the camera lingering on cuffed wrists clasped tightly over baggy jeans or long, bare legs.  The latest iteration of the initiative—Operation Cross Country X—took place across 103 U.S. cities from October 13 to 16…it involved the efforts of 74 federally led Human Trafficking Task Forces, comprised of officers from 55 FBI field offices and more than 400 federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies…the operation identified 82 “children” engaged in prostitution, an average of about 0.88 per city, or one for every five agencies participating.  All were teenagers—mostly 16- and 17-year-olds—and a number of cities where they were found made no simultaneous pimping or sex trafficking arrests…only five men stand accused of federal crimes—with only two accused of crimes against actual minors.  None of these suspects was part of anything even remotely resembling an organized criminal enterprise…

The Lesser of Two Evils (#589) 

Presumably, those who are “outraged” would prefer boys be molested instead:

Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican…In…Naples…[Rev. Mario D’Orlando] was recently suspended…over claims he held gay orgies and [paid male sex workers]…In…Padua…Rev. Andrea Contin, is facing defrocking…amid accusations he had up to 30 lovers, some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France…One woman…claimed the priest carried sex toys and bondage equipment, prostituted his lovers on wife-swapping websites and also invited other priests from the area to sex parties…

New flash: humans have sexual urges.  Deprive them of socially-sanctioned ways to meet their needs, and they’ll find other ways.  It really is that simple.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#626)

If it happened in a Cambodian brothel, the story is never too shocking for Westerners to believe“:

…Don and Bridget are the founders of Agape International Missions, or AIM, a Christian missionary group on the front lines of the war against child sex trafficking in Cambodia…They have made it their life’s work to stop men…from abusing children…Human trafficking was once endemic in Cambodia…Anecdotal…tales of pimps and profiteers openly selling women and children on the streets are commonplace…According to surveys of sex workers…the number of child prostitutes has reportedly been dropping for years.  Survey estimates once reported nearly 35 percent of Cambodian prostitutes…were minors.  Recent estimates pegged that number closer to 1 to 2 percent…But Don Brewster [pretends] the falling estimates are misleading…

To Molest and Rape 

Try to imagine a non-cop getting just three years for this. Go on, try.

An NYPD [cop] who raped and sexually abused a 13-year-old girl scored a soft sentence…of only three years in prison — just a year for each attack.  Vladimir Krull…raped the victim in her home and in his car during two separate incidents…Krull…was also convicted of [orally raping] the victim…in June 2014 after a father-daughter breakfast for her eighth-grade class…

Still a Child (#674) 

Despite the pearl-clutching, I actually agree with this:

For nearly 90 years, an uncelebrated New York State law has largely escaped attention, allowing what would seem to be unfathomable in this day and age…child marriages, by the thousands.  Since 1929, New York has allowed children as young as 14 to marry; 14- and 15-year-olds can do so with judicial and parental approval, and 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with mere parental consent…Most states allow 16- and 17-year-olds to marry, and more than two dozen other states have no statutory minimum age at all…Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 3,900 minors were wed in the state, mostly in marriages arranged by parents whose religious or cultural traditions embrace the practice.  State lawmakers and Governor Cuomo are now trying to put an end to so-called child marriages, and have introduced similar bills to end marriage altogether for 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds, joining a number of states from New Jersey to Missouri that are working to change similar laws…

Once all the sex-magic mumbo-jumbo is stripped away, marriage is simply a contract; no more, no less.  It’s illegal for minors to enter into contracts, therefore it should be illegal for them to marry. Q.E.D.  Furthermore, the State forbids even taking pictures of nude minors, yet it allows them to make binding lifelong contracts for sexual services?  Really?

Between the Ears (#674) 

Have a device that connects to the internet? Assume it can be used to spy on you:

Canadian “smart” sex toy manufacturer We-Vibe recently felt the long, hard, stiff arm of the law when it was fined $4 million CAD (about $3 million USD) after it tracked users’ use without their consent.  The money will go to compensate those who bought the device.  Owners of the We-Vibe 4 Plus who used the app are entitled to claim C$10,000 (about $7,500), while those who just bought the vibrator can claim up to $199, less legal fees…This follows a successful class-action lawsuit that was brought before an Illinois federal court…

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We see no constitutionally adequate basis to criminalize sex solely because one consenting adult pays another.  –   Hayley Gorenberg  and Richard Saenz of Lambda Legal

Rough Trade 

Be careful out there, my sisters in Philadelphia:

Philadelphia police say a predator who’s attacked female prostitutes earlier this year may be responsible for two more recent attacks…the most recent incident occurred Oct. 1 when a man on a bike propositioned [a street worker] for sex…the man choked her until she lost consciousness…Police believe the same man also accosted another prostitute at gunpoint Sept. 19.  He took her to an alley and [raped] her while holding a knife to her face.  Police believe the same man attacked a prostitute with a brick then stabbed [to death]…on July 16. She died.  The same man, often arriving on a bike, is believed to have attacked at least one other prostitute, slashing her throat April 19.

The Lesser of Two Evils

As I’ve pointed out before, most laws governing sex work prior to the late 19th century were aimed at drawing lines between harlots and “good” women, rather than at advancing a quixotic crusade to “eradicate” the ineradicable.  Here’s a list of garments prostitutes were required to wear in various medieval European cities:

Beaucaire: a mark on the left arm…
Berne: red cap.
Bristol: striped hoods.
Castres: a man’s hat and a scarlet belt.
Florence: gloves and bells on the head…and high-heeled slippers.
Languedoc: a cord belt.
Leipzig: yellow cloak trimmed with blue.
London: striped hoods.
Mantua: white cloak and badge on chest…
Marseilles: striped tunic.
Milan: black cloak.
Nimes: a sleeve of a special colour.
Pisa: a yellow headband.
Strasbourg: black and white sugarloaf hat.
Toulouse: a mark on their sleeve.
Venice: yellow scarf.
Vienna: yellow scarf.
Zurich: red cap.

Saving Them From Themselves

Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever:

A man [in Australia] who found out that his 15-year-old stepdaughter was sexting her boyfriend proceeded to download the evidence to bring it to the school and the police to ask them to intervene…Now [Ashan Ortell] has been convicted on child pornography charges and placed on the sex offender registry…for eight years…

Frankly, I’m glad this idiot got what he deserved.  If anything, anyone who would report his own daughter to the pigs for the “crime” of having a sexual relationship deserves much worse than 8 years on the registry.

Gullible’s Travels

Even if this were true (which it isn’t), it’s a testament to the entrenched stupidity of authoritarians that they refuse to see that binge drinking on US university campuses only became common after the drinking age was raised to 21:

A growing number of college are banning hard liquor on campus in a move to curb extreme drinking — but students are still getting their party on, and some are adding an extra element of risk to their binges…the phenomenon dubbed “drunkorexia”…University of Houston Professor Dipali Rinker said in a study of 1,200 students, he found up to 80 percent were restricting calories, overexercising, purging or using laxatives in combination with binge drinking…

Bogeymen

No, the sex trade in Ireland is no more “controlled” by “gangs” than it is in the US.  This is little more than a cop wanking fantasy of there being “bad guys” to target, aided and abetted by the pathological liars at Ruhama:

Five major vice gang members are behind three-quarters of the sex-for-sale business in Ireland, according to data taken from the most popular website used to advertise prostitution.  One gang this week has links to 80 advertised women and more than 10 transgender prostitutes, who can each make €1,000 a day.  Ireland’s multi-million euro vice trade is set for a massive blow as a new law to make it illegal to buy sex is due before the Dáil this week…

But just for fun, ask yourself:  If there really were mobsters behind all the sex work in Ireland, would they want decriminalization or increased criminalization?  Did the Mafia like the end of Prohibition?  And what happened to Mexican drug cartels’ profits when Washington & Colorado legalized cannabis?

The End of the Beginning 

This is what happens when you don’t fight tyrannical laws from the beginning:

A federal class action…challenges a Mississippi statute that requires people convicted of having anal sex to register as sex offenders.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Mississippi residents who say they were convicted under various sodomy prohibitions, including the “unnatural intercourse” law, and Louisiana’s “crime against nature by solicitation” law…the [registration requirement] is discriminatory and unenforceable in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating all state laws against gay sex as unconstitutional…

You know why they can get away with this despite Lawrence?  Because the Great Unwashed said nothing when federal courts established the precedent that the horrific persecution and ostracism inflicted on “sex offenders” are not punishments, but merely side effects of a record-keeping process.

Torture Chamber

Stop faking!

[In 1993] Anthony Gay…pled out to violating probation because of a “strong arm robbery.”  Gay was convicted of the robbery and hence the violation after nicking a hat and $1, resulting in a sentence of 7 years in prison…he was warehoused at the notorious…Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois [where]…”his actions…driven by his mental illness, resulted in years of solitary confinement and additional criminal convictions, chiefly due to a series of assaults on guards, including throwing feces and urine out of the food slot in his cell door.  By 2013, his sentence had been increased to 97 years and his release date pushed back to around 2091…he practiced self-mutilation, even to the point of cutting out one of his testicles and hanging it on a cell door in 2010“…He was literally crying out for help, and no one listened, save for his lawyers who managed to…convince…the court that the sentences Gay racked up while at Tamms had been improperly stacked…his new release date is set for August of 2018…Tamms has closed shop because its blatant incompetence and overindulgence in costly solitary confinement of people like Gay…

Making It Up As They Go 

Seattle pretends to be “liberal”, but it’s home to vile bullshit like this:

Escape to Peace launched…a…center for survivors of sex trafficking in Bellevue on Oct. 6….Carol Loya was inspired to create the non-profit after a 2012 mission to Thailand, during which she was shocked to see and talk to young…sex work[ers]…At any given time in King County, 300-500 underage girls are being trafficked.  The average age of entry is 12-14 years old, with some as young as 8 or 9…

Yes, they’re actually claiming that Greater Seattle has 20% of all coerced underage prostitutes in the entire US.

Checklist (#612)

More “beauty salon sex trafficking” idiocy from Ohio:

…100,000…cosmetologists throughout the state of Ohio…are now the latest allies in the fight against human trafficking…In Ohio alone, it is estimated that more than 1,000 girls and boys, between the ages of 12 and 17, are involved in the sex trade.  Last year, Ohio’s state cosmetology board approved a requirement that human-trafficking awareness training become a mandatory part of obtaining a cosmetology license…[fetishists fantasize that] traffickers or so-called pimps may take a victim to a hair salon in order to change their appearance to avoid detection…If stylists see anything suspicious, there are things they can do like get a license plate number and call police…

In a police state, even your hairdresser may be spying on you.

One Born Every Minute (#645) 

I’m pleased for the very small part I played in helping to expose this rapist:

Matt Hickey…has been charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney with three counts of rape in the second degree.  The charges…contain allegations from three women, including two women The Stranger wrote about earlier this year…who said Hickey told them he was working with a female porn recruiter, and asked them to audition for them…Not long after the first piece came out, three more women came forward to accuse Matt Hickey of rape.  These women told The Stranger that Hickey got them blackout drunk and raped them while they were unable to consent.  Hickey denied all of the allegations…

Vendetta (#664)

A look at the aftermath of one of the private pogroms bankrolled by billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt:

Cory Walcott, was chair of the Military Science Department at the University of Nebraska Kearney until he was busted in a highly-publicized national sting…Prosecutors have now announced they are dropping the charge against Walcott and another man, Maurice Briggs…Their arrests were both part of the “National John Suppression Initiative”…[in which] police departments across the country pose undercover as either sex workers or their clients, arrest a lot of adult men and women for things like prostitution and solicitation, then put out splashy press releases about all the “sex trafficking arrests” they’ve made…the ultimate arrest/rescue breakdown for Lincoln?

  • no underage or adult sex-trafficking victims discovered
  • no force, fraud, or coercion discovered
  • four women, ages 23 to 36, charged with misdemeanor prostitution
  • five men charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution
  • one man charged with felony solicitation of prostitution
  • one man charged with marijuana possession…

Send In the Clowns

The most interesting part of the clown panic isn’t the hysteria itself (which is kind of a yawn to anyone who’s studied such panics before), nor the copycats trying to get attention by mimicking the imaginary bogeys (ditto), but the bizarre things one finds in news stories about clown incidents.  One story says “Three ‘juvenile clowns’ were taken into custody in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under the influence of marijuana“; Holy Reefer Madness, Batman!  One wonders what the Kentucky man who “fired a semi-automatic rifle at a woman walking her dog because he thought she was a clown” was under the influence of; like some others, this story tries to blame the clown hysteria on Stephen King, specifically a new production of It which I doubt has anything to do with the panic.  Then there’s this Massachusetts Halloween haunted house which features “scary clowns” among its attractions, reassuring the public that “they would know if there was a clown impersonator among them.”  Self-important Australian “experts” pronounced the hysteria “dangerous” and “sinister” after it spread to Perth and to cities in Victoria (one wonders why they haven’t opined on the far-more-serious “sex trafficking” hysteria).  But those all pale beside the horrifying statements made by cops in (wait for it) Arizona:

The Phoenix Police Department reports five juveniles ages 14 and 15 were charged with scary clown threats. Mesa police [arrested]  two juveniles…[one maniac said] “I would call it a hate crime.”  To prevent copycats, [pigs] and county prosecutors are taking a zero tolerance approach.  “Every image, every text, every mention will be investigated,” said [Commissar] Nik Rasheta…prosecutors plan to prosecute anyone else making scary clown threats to the full extent…[propaganda operatives] say don’t think social media will be a shield to make scary clown threats. Authorities have the technology to see who’s posting and spreading them…

Challenge (#679)

Lambda Legal has honored the commitment it made to sex worker rights last year by filing an amicus brief in the ESPLERP case:

…At the heart of Lambda Legal’s most groundbreaking victories and continuing mission is self-determination, including bodily autonomy.  When the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing same-sex relationships and gay identity in Lawrence v. Texas, it rightly rejected assertions against us that “public health” justified sodomy laws.  The movement for reproductive justice, from which we draw key legal precedents, similarly fights for facts over fiction when government tries to limit the right to contraception, abortion, or other similar personal decision-making.  Lawrence explained that the constitutional right to liberty protects all of us when we make our own decisions about adult, consensual sexual intimacy…sometimes relationships are transactional…consider prenuptial agreements, surrogacy, and hook-up websites; the fact that money is involved does not obliterate constitutional protections for marriage, parenting or sexual intimacy.  All of these truths animate Lambda Legal’s position that the government may not constitutionally criminalize consensual adult sex solely because it is bought and sold.

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Laws don’t pay my bills!  –  unnamed Glasgow street worker

Five Women in Whitechapel 

Laura Lee on the appalling blindness of “authorities”:

…The last victim of Jack the Ripper, [Mary] Kelly’s body was so badly mutilated that she could only be identified by her hair and eyebrows…Fast forward 127 years and we have surely progressed a great deal since then in terms of sex worker safety, right?  Well no, actually.  If anything it’s worse.  Following the removal of the tolerance zone for street prostitution in Edinburgh, crimes against sex workers shot up by 95%.  The reason for that is simple, it became known that the police were no longer there to protect the workers, but rather to harass and arrest them, and their clients.  Let’s make a clear distinction for once and all, many attackers of sex workers are not or will never be “sex buyers”.  They are predators, looking for an easy target, and they know that sex workers are alone, vulnerable and highly unlikely to report an attack to the police…152 sex workers have been murdered since 1990.  How many more Mary Kellys must we have before the penny drops that leaving vulnerable people open to attack is not a good policy?

The Lesser of Two Evils Vatican City

If the Church were sanely-run, this article would be true:

The newest leaked information associated with the Vatileaks scandal states that properties owned by the Vatican along Piazza Barberini and the Italian parliament have now been converted to “massage parlours” and saunas, and their patrons are priests.  The leaked document points to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith…[which] owns and operates numerous properties within Rome.  The properties in question are referred to as “peppercorn rents” and are said to be leased for cheap to “powerful colleagues” of the religious institution…

Check Your Premises

They worked for themselves, but it’s a “ring” and the cops are looking for “pimps”:

Four women have been arrested as part of an alleged prostitution ring operating in Mississippi…Arrested were Anjeni’ Qyanik Moore, 34, of Norfolk, Virginia; Heaven Leigh Nix, 23, of Memphis, Tennessee; Joneka Santrice Burns, 24, of Jackson, Mississippi; and Candace Renee Stewart, 30, of Byhalia, Mississippi…MBI spokesman Warren Strain said the women were working independently and are not believed to be victims of human trafficking.  He declined to say…whether they worked with pimps, citing an ongoing investigation…

Saving Them From Themselves

Lock ’em all up, New York!  Let’s put the entire next generation on the “sex offender” registry!

…17 states have changed their child pornography laws so that teenagers who swap nude photos of themselves with each other are not automatically treated as felons.  One of those states is New York, which makes an exception for images exchanged between people 20 or younger whose ages are no more than five years apart.  In such cases, the “offenders” can avoid criminal charges by undergoing an eight-hour “education reform program” that covers the dangers of sexting and cyberbullying.  Despite that provision, two Long Island teenagers were recently charged with felonies for producing and disseminating a 10-second video showing one of them having sex with a girl…the two boys…are both 14…the boys…were each charged with…disseminating indecent material to minors and promoting a sexual performance by a child…In addition to the two boys who were arrested, 20 students were suspended for receiving the video on their cellphones…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The cops are happy to serve as an ex’s revenge goons:

A 50-year-old woman…has been sentenced for soliciting prostitution…Marisa Frances Lang pleaded guilty to prostitution in a public place…and to disorderly conduct…Judge Michael A. Fahey…placed Lang on two years of probation.  She was ordered to continue mental health treatment and counseling…and must pay $585 in fines and fees…her ex-husband’s [ratting her out to cops]…led to a sting operation…

Finding What Isn’t There

“Authorities” amazed that an imaginary problem doesn’t materialize in response to their “mandating” that it exists:

…Around the country, pimps…force thousands of…women and girls…into prostitution every day.  Florida has the third highest number of sex trafficking cases…Reformers have argued that prostitutes are victims, not criminals, and more effort should be made to go after human traffickers – the pimps…Despite this new focus, a statewide analysis…found that efforts…to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers have yielded few results…[“rescue” profiteers pretend] the image of the independent prostitute, working for herself and selling sex by choice, is rarely accurate…“I [fantasize] the majority who are in the life have been the victims of trafficking,” said Katariina Rosenblatt, founder of There Is HOPE for Me…

The Widening Gyre 

The “Facebook pimps” myth is one of the silliest of the whole panic:

…Traffickers worldwide are increasingly using social media to contact vulnerable teenagers and sell them into sex work…Once limited to luring victims in the street, traffickers can now message thousands of people through Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Tagged and Twitter, with WhatsApp and Snapchat some of the latest tools in their arsenal.  “If just one of them answers … traffickers can make thousands of dollars off that girl very quickly,” said Andrea Powell, founder and director of FAIR Girls…a growing trend in the United States is to use WhatsApp or Snapchat where messages evaporate over time…Europol…said social media and other online technology have not only taken the recruitment and selling process off the streets but also allow traffickers to control victims using remote surveillance…

Here the magical “pimp” mind-control powers are claimed to be exerted via some mumbo-jumbo fantasy technology.Lucy Steigerwald

Shift in the Wind

Lucy Steigerwald presents a pro-decriminalization argument to a conservative audience:

Unfortunately, while the war on one vice dials back, law enforcement and government fight hard against another supposed danger…these days it sure seems as if the hot new thing to swoon over and vow to “do something” about is prostitution.  Worse than that, it’s prostitution-slash-sex trafficking, vaguely hand-waved together as the same thing…the solution to the latter is to legalize the former.  It’s that easy.  Or it could be, if people would do two things: stop filing trafficking with prostitution, and stop pretending that laws against selling and purchasing sex actually prevent people from selling and purchasing sex…Both hand-wringing liberals and worried social conservatives need to realize that some sex workers—perhaps the vast majority—have no need of rescue.  They need their line of work to be taken out of the black-market shadows.  They need to be left alone…We tend to look back with shame and bafflement at the obviously absurd moral panics that have gripped our society, but only after the damage has been done.  We are in the middle of a sex trafficking panic that not only exaggerates the threat that prostitutes pose to the moral fiber of society but, worse still, makes enormous exaggerations about the number of sex-trafficked (mostly) women and children…

Fever Dream

It’s like they’re not even trying any more:

Law enforcement officials on all levels – from local to international – are working together to crack down on human trafficking, which is a growing problem…[fetishists] call it “modern day slavery,” and it’s happening right here in East Tennessee…pimps…target young girls…on…social media…Interstate 40 is a convenient corridor for sex traffickers…the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking…[trains] people to recognize victimization…traffickers and pimps employ manipulation…21 of Tennessee’s 95 counties reported at least 16 cases of sex trafficking involving a minor in 2010…

Yes, that’s the same discredited study they’re still quoting despite the fact that it isn’t even supported by the cops’ own records.

Shame, Shame

Here’s a excellent article on the State’s two-faced attitude toward “revenge porn”:

…Sex workers themselves are erased from anti–revenge-porn rhetoric.  Proposed remedies for revenge porn—criminalization of disclosures and liability for third-party websites—fail to address the sex-work stigma that creates repercussions for victims of revenge porn.  When a woman has her Google results bombed with nude photos and fake sex ads, she won’t pass a screening when she tries to get a job—because she’ll be mistaken for a sex worker.  The solution, we conclude, is to remove all possibility of that mistake—rather than to remove what bars a sex worker from getting that job…We propose new criminal statutes and partner with the police, even as the police threaten to post photos of sex workers during “busts” on social media accounts.  These are women who are being locked out of jobs because of nude photos of them on the Internet.  These are women who are being publicly disgraced as sex workers—because they are sex workers…the existence of sex work raises awkward questions about how to define revenge porn, how to understand its harms, and how to most appropriately redress its victims…

Blunt Instrument (#547)

And the gravy train just keeps rolling along:

Victims of human trafficking in Tampa Bay will have more access to legal help thanks to a $600,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant…Some…brothels take the form of what are called massage parlors.  Gulfcoast Legal Services attorney Sophia Lynn Denicolo says they can be hotbeds of human trafficking…

The Public Eye (#557)

Another sex work-positive article in Cosmopolitan.  Hey prohibitionists:  We’re winning.  And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

There are a few rules for dating a sex worker:  don’t compromise their cash flow by driving away their business, never out them to other people without their consent, and don’t expect them to eagerly perform activities they normally get paid to do for free…Ask any sex worker how they maintain their boundaries, and you’re in for a long conversation.  Some people develop a working identity that they keep entirely separate from their real-life persona, and others conflate the two.  Many sex workers desperately want to be out but don’t want to endure the invasive questions, or fear that their housing stability or the custody of their children would be compromised…The hardest boundary I’ve had to confront in my romantic relationships is the line between authentic desire in my work, and the “it’s just work” defense…But the world isn’t black-and-white, and while the vast majority of us are not regularly turned on by our work, real connections can happen with scene partners and genuine fun can be had with clients.  So where’s the line?…

Seizing Power (#574)

I’m adding Judge Posner to the very short list of men who can claim a freebie from me anytime they like:

A federal appeals court has ordered the Cook County Sheriff’s Department to cease lobbying major credit card companies that do business with…Backpage.com…At a hearing on Friday, Judge Richard Posner expressed unease with the notion, presented by the sheriff department attorneys, that Dart’s First Amendment rights protected his individual right to express his displeasure with Backpage to the credit card companies…on the sheriff department’s letterhead…“He can use the office of the sheriff to express any antipathy that he has to anything?” Posner posed to the sheriff’ department attorneys.  “So you’re saying there is no limit?  He can express his opinion on his office stationery on any subject that occurs to him.  What if he doesn’t like pets?  He doesn’t think people should have animals in their house.  He can suggest to everyone they euthanize their pets?”  Dart was also directed by the appeals court to send a copy of the order to Visa and Mastercard and all other recipients of the June 29 letter within 24 hours…

The recording is well worth your time, especially the segment from roughly the 18 minute mark to the 30 minute mark.  Dart’s mouthpiece clearly knows she’s spouting drivel, and the judges keep calling her on it.

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For a model that is supposed to help prostitutes…[the Swedish model] shows them remarkably little respect.  –  Mishka Gora

Rough Trade Danford Grant on video

Accused rapist says it wasn’t rape because his victims were only whores:

Danford Grant, a prominent Seattle lawyer…is charged with six counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of burglary for allegedly attacking multiple women at massage clinics…Grant’s lawyers claim Jie Shao, owner of Carnation Massage:  “deleted all the footage that recorded what really occurred…to destroy what was evidence of prostitution, not rape or attempted rape”…attorney…Richard Hansen…has repeatedly put…responsibility …on the…victims…saying…“a lot of these…(massage businesses) were advertising on Backpage…that should tell you something”…

The Lesser of Two Evils

An excellent Christian argument against criminalization of sex work, especially via the Swedish model:

…To criminalise male purchasers while simultaneously exonerating female vendors…is a violation of natural justice…this…“denial of consent”…fails to understand the motivation of women who…prefer prostitution to the alternative…the duplicity and irrationality of wanting to eliminate prostitution…while simultaneously denying the moral agency of prostitutes…is mind-boggling.  The contortions of the mind needed to support this feminist narrative have…also led to…prostitutes [being treated]…like children incapable of taking responsibility for their actions…[while] male clients…are…“sex offenders”…along with rapists and child abusers…According to Dr Melissa Farley, upon whose dubious “research” seemingly every justification of the Swedish model is based, they are “predators”…For Christians, promiscuity has [always] been the defining aspect of prostitution…medieval canonists agreed that although it was wrong for a prostitute to practice her trade, there was no wrongdoing in her receipt of money for her services…It is…hypocritical and inconsistent to criminalise only this one form of promiscuity…It is not…criminal…for a woman to have a different sexual partner each night…nor…for a man to buy his mistress an apartment, clothing, etc…integrity would demand…prohibition [of sex work] apply to all illicit sex…Such a prohibition…was ludicrous in Catholic medieval Europe, and…even more so in a modern western democracy…

Actually, This is Good News

The more sex workers are treated as other professionals are, the better:

Prostitutes could be sued for breaching the Consumer Guarantees Act, the same as any other service provider, a law professor says.  A man who tried to sue a prostitute for compensation and damages  had his claim dismissed…But…Professor Cynthia Hawes said prostitutes were…no less accountable than other service providers…”if you’ve made a contract with somebody there could be a case.  A contract of prostitution is not unlawful in itself”…

Maggie in the Media

On Wednesday I was a guest on the Inspireland podcast; you can listen to it at that link or download it on iTunes.

Parable white slave girl

For April Fools’ Day, Jenny Heineman wrote a satire entitled “It Happened To Me:  I Read And Believed Nick Kristof”:

Despite ample warnings about the prevalence of con men seeking to prey on easily malleable puppets like me…I almost became the victim of a murky, seedy, dark, sex trafficking ring operated by equally murky, seedy, dark (-skinned) men…prostitution…is never a victimless crime…all fact-based evidence to the contrary should be deeply scrutinized…Furthermore, prostitution and sex trafficking are synonyms because if you disagree…you’re a pedophile…

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

A [Connecticut] woman faces prostitution charges after…she reported being robbed by a man who responded to her ad…Nikoletta Herman…became nervous about the way he was acting…changed her mind and…the man got upset, assaulted her and stole her cellphone…

Marching Up Their Own Arses

The newest anti-whore fad:  using “licensing” to jack up prostitution fines:

…Wausau [Wisconsin] Police Chief Jeff Hardel [wants]…an escort license…ordinance [which] would impose fines in the $2,000 to $5,000 dollar range, and [require] licensed escorts to be fingerprinted, pass background checks, and file a…business plan.

Full of Themselves (Updates Galore)

Massage parlors are victims of licensing as well:

…Minneapolis will require massage businesses to be licensed…to prevent sex trafficking…With cooperation from…victims, prosecutors are…working to drive down the demand…through aggressive prosecuting of “johns.”  The city also has conducted training sessions to educate hotel and motel owners and employees to recognize, report and stop sex trafficking…

coffee crack pipe
To paraphrase one line from the article, “The new law is intended to make Minneapolis a safe police state to call home.”

Gullible’s Travels

Coffee smoking is a dangerous new trend that could be going viral among teens…But the side effects can be dangerous. People have reported trouble breathing, dizziness, vomiting and even hallucinations.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

violence and assault against sex workers by the police…has come under the scanner of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission…Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a complaint…on behalf of the sex workers…”Women have been beaten up just for standing on the road, or while walking towards the bus stop…Women have been…compelled to pay money, failing which they are threatened that false cases will be filed against them,” Professor Rajendra Y J of PUCL said…

The Prudish Giant (TW3 #9)

PayPal is at it again; here’s a letter sent out on Monday by the crowd-funding platform Patreon (which lets patrons pledge a set amount to an artist for every new work created) to artists who create “adult” material:

…we had to change your custom URL and set your Patreon page to “private”…users must [now] have a specific link to view your page, as it no longer appears in our search results.  We got a notice from Paypal this morning that they were shutting down their entire integration with Patreon because of “adult content” on our site!  As you can imagine, this would be detrimental to creators – hundreds of thousands of dollars were to be “frozen” unless we flagged all adult content pages, made them private, and removed Paypal functionality from their individual pages…We have already emailed your patrons who signed up to become your patron through Paypal, and we have asked them to switch over to a credit card.  No action is needed on your part, however, if you would like to email your patrons as well, that could be helpful in converting patrons from Paypal to credit card…

Above the Law 

Kansas jailer Kenneth Reese “has been arrested, accused of sex crimes against jail inmates”; the first allegation a year ago didn’t go anywhere, but a second accusation seems to have tipped the balance.  Meanwhile, in Louisiana, “Richland Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dewey Allen has been arrested on charges of sexual battery and malfeasance…

Held Together With Lies

Emily J does a splendid job of ripping apart prohibitionist nonsense:

…here are the basic numbers of their claims:  140 girls & women in Ottawa right now are trafficked sex slaves…[each makes] $260 000 – $280 000…on average…[at] $200/Hour average price…$260 000 per year at $200/hour…[is] 1300 sessions in a year…if each one works 365 days per year, they earn $712 per day…[and] 3.56 clients per day, every single day…that’s 498 unique men seeing trafficked girls in Ottawa…[and] 182,000 sessions per year…[which would mean] 65% of all men in Ottawa have had sex with a trafficked sex slave…

Number Puzzle

The invaluable Wendy Lyon debunks another bogus “trafficking” study:

There’s been much in the Irish media…about a new report on sex workers’ clients…You’d need a pretty small population size for 58 [respondents] to…tell us anything about clients as a class – and the authors can hardly claim simultaneously that the population size is small enough, and that it spends €250m a year…if the respondents amounted to even 10% of the sex-buying population of Ireland, that would still require them to pay an average of €431,034 per year for sex…the…survey…asks…Have you ever changed your mind and walked away because the person seemed…a list of options follows, including “scared”, “controlled”, “unwilling”, “unhappy” and “too young”…a client who…walked out of an appointment with an independent escort who was in a bad mood…[was] recorded as having encountered a sex worker who he believed was exploited or trafficked.  This…is a gigantic leap that undermines whatever credibility this survey might otherwise have had…

Under Every Bed

This collection of single sentences  about the “sex trafficking problem” in Boise, Idaho (population 200,000; known chiefly for lumber and potatoes) is not actually organized into a coherent article; apparently, its “writer” is a dual devotee of the “sex trafficking” cult and the Hemingway software.  The gems found therein include (multiple sic):  “a child is taken in…they’re used not only for prostitution but also in gang organized crimes”; “victims…go through a ‘moral development’ period…in order to stay safe they must go along with their captures”; and “investigators…believe that a major problem stems from the Internet…‘where kids play online’”.

Bottleneck (TW3 #324)

This breathless article from the Canberra Times is clearly intended as an attack on decriminalization in New South Wales:  it spouts “sex trafficking” nonsense; quotes cops, politicians and an NGO named “Brothel Busters”; and does not quote any sex worker organizations at all.  But like many prohibitionist screeds about the “failure” of legal sex work regimes, it ignores a vital point:  the women it discusses are only victims because they are specifically excluded from working legally via some legal bottleneck, in this case the inability to get visas for sex work.  Naturally, Scarlet Alliance has repeatedly warned the government about this exact issue.

Bootlickers (TW3 #326) 

Because surely there are scads of women who think escort to barista is a good career move:

[Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell L. O’Neill] was charged…with felony promoting prostitution…for allegedly tipping off bikini baristas in exchange for sexual favors…[cops claim] Java Juggs stands hire young women who have worked as strippers and escorts and “essentially operate as drive-through strip clubs or brothels”…

Innocence Never Had

Another useless public policy based upon the absurd notion of magical “pimp” mind control powers:

[Los Angeles] officials are exploring a plan to require more…training for foster parents and group home workers to help them recognize …signs that children and teens under their care may be victims of sex trafficking…pimps sometimes recruit underage sex workers from group homes…Rachel Thomas, a sex trafficking survivor [said]…”There’s a grooming process…with recognizable signs.”

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #352) 

Campaigners fighting the Ministry of Justice over a ban on books being sent to prisoners…threatened to take their battle to the courts…Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has offered his services for free, said…justice secretary Chris Grayling [is] acting “unlawfully and irrationally”…to inflict “cruel and unusual punishment” on literate prisoners.  “Grayling is not a lawyer, he is a politician who seems to think he is above the law,” said Robertson…”He has no power to impose additional punishment on prisoners over and above that which is imposed by the courts.  The action has nothing to do with prison security or any other legitimate purpose”…Grayling [pretends]…”the arrival of thousands of unknown parcels in our prisons each day”…would undermine the…battle against drugs…

R.I.P. Andrew Hunter

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex workers from across the UK and rest of Europe crammed into a select committee room in the House of Commons to argue against plans to change prostitution laws that would criminalise clients…

Whither Canada? 

Canadian prohibitionist is sad because he can no longer force sex workers traumatized by arrest to listen to his “rescue” sales pitch:

A prostitute rescue program…is now on hold because police are no longer laying prostitution charges in Saskatoon, says…Don Meikle…once an arrest was made “we would be sitting at the police station waiting for them…It’s…very disappointing…It’s taken away that crisis that quite often created change”…

The rest of the article is littered with words like “combating prostitution” and the program is praised by a pro-Swedish model prohibitionist group.

Delightful Conversation

Go back and look at the text below the second picture on yesterday’s column (which I actually posted on March 8th) before reading this:

…[Miranda Barbour] made up the claim that she killed more than 20 people and is drawing on the escapades of television serial killer “Dexter,” her sister said…”She takes a lot of truths and puts the lie in the middle so when people…see all these truths…they believe the lie”…Ashley Dean said Elytte Barbour loved the TV show Dexter and suggested that her sister…”is using descriptions from the show”…

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Prostitutes…will be forced to continue to hide…because even if they are not risking arrest, their clients are.  And their survival depends on their clients.  –  Tim Leicester

The Lesser of Two Evils

A rabbi makes an argument familiar to students of medieval Catholicism:

Britain should…[legalize] brothels and…[implement] basic controls over safety and hygiene…without monitoring activities too closely and thereby discouraging usage of them…It may be more messianic to want to end the sex trade altogether, but perhaps it is more religious to seek to channel it safely.

Feminine Pragmatism

Layal has…turned to sex work in [Beirut] to support her two children…“I don’t have any products to sell…I have myself to sell, and I’d much rather earn my money [like that] than I would begging on the street”…Layal says her Iraqi husband…sends her a monthly allowance from Baghdad, but…it’s not enough to cover her $900 rent…and allow her to send money to her family back in Syria.  He has no idea his wife is supplementing their income with prostitution …“A woman should never depend on anyone else for money, even her husband,” she says defiantly…

A Procrustean Bed

Note the assumption that there is always a “trafficker” hiding somewhere:

[Massachusetts’] new human trafficking law has been on the books since early last year, but Bristol County has not charged anyone and Plymouth County has brought charges against one man…[law sponsor] Mark C.W. Montigny…said the problem of human trafficking exists everywhere…and…the attitude that it doesn’t happen here is part of the problem…Law enforcement should use cases involving johns and prostitutes “to go up the ladder” and identify and prosecute the trafficker, he said…

Marching Up Their Own Arses
Slave Hunter

Remember Chris Baughman, the Las Vegas cop claiming to be an “expert” on “pimps”?  Pay especial note to the “magical pimp” trope:

[MSNBC’s]…new series, Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking…reveals…what happens behind closed doors in the sex trafficking underworld.  The series highlights the…work of human rights advocate, Aaron Cohen and his partner, former Las Vegas vice detective, Chris Baughman…MSNBC’s cameras follow Cohen and Baughman as they…identify trafficked women via on-line ads and then arrange to meet them in New York City hotel rooms with Cohen posing as a potential john.  When the women are open to help, Cohen and Baughman…[help] them to escape their bonds and build a new life…other times, the trafficked women sadly succumb to the powers of their “pimp”…

We can only hope this blows up in NBC’s face the way To Catch a Predator  eventually did.  Hey, guys, do you know the word for men like you who prey on women in order to enrich and aggrandize themselves?  Oops.

An Example to the West

over 1,500 sex workers…[voted in Delhi on] December 4…thanks to an enrollment drive by the state election commission…over 80 per cent [of] sex workers [are now registered]…”We all will vote…for the person who will fulfill our long-pending demands,” Munni Begum…of GB Road Sex Workers Association…said…

And in Mysore:

…Ashodaya Samithi…is…a powerful collective…of 336 members…[and] a network of volunteers operating in six districts of Karnataka.  It reaches out to 8,000 sex workers through its different initiatives…such as providing knowledge of legal and human rights…running drop-in-centres, operation of a crisis management unit, a restaurant…and a training academy predominantly run by members …they also offer HIV and STI testing facilities, counselling and free condoms…90 percent of sex workers in Mysore have been contacted monthly, 70 percent…visit…drop in centres regularly and 65 percent have become consistent condom users.  Ashodaya Samithi has successfully reduced STI prevalence within three years…

The Power of Myth

As I’ve explained before, even cases which could credibly be called “trafficking” rarely fit the myth:

…Since Australia introduced tough laws to crack down on trafficking a decade ago…eight of 15 people…convicted…were…female…migrants, born in the same…country as their victims and typically from similar…socio-economic backgrounds.  Most…involved…[debt-bonded] Thai women…[and] three…had reportedly been victims…themselves…[none] were involved in “high-end organised crime”…

Mythbusters

Eight common migration myths debunked, including “Migration is on the increase”, “Strict border controls reduce irregular migration”, and “Migrants take jobs that would otherwise go to natives.”Thompson & Hurd

The Widening Gyre

The words “sex trafficking” and “pimp” do not appear in this story; however, I think we all know what was going through these cops’ sick minds:

Houston Police have refused to explain why they took a 13-year-old white girl from her two black guardians…and [gave] her [to]…Child Protective Services.  Landry Thompson’s mother had signed notarized papers giving dance instructor Emmanuel Hurd full guardianship over her during a trip from Oklahoma to Houston…Thompson, Hurd and another dance instructor had stopped at a gas station…when they were surrounded by police cars…All three told the police the same story, but…“They still put handcuffs on me and it really scared me”…Thompson [said]…At first officials…demanded that the mother fly to Houston to get her daughter, but 11 hours later, the girl was released back into [Hurd’s] custody…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #28)

The French parliament has backed part of a bill that imposes a 1,500 euro (£1,250) fine on anyone paying for sex…Protests…took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #47) Sidse Babett Knudsen as fictional Danish Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen

The Danes weren’t just satisfied with rejecting the tyrannical Swedish model; they also dramatized the events in a political television show:

…in the internet age, it is simply not good enough to pretend to be speaking for a “voiceless” group, as the surprised politicians learned in Borgen…Sadly, the biggest fiction…was the bit when the politician found herself impressed and moved by the voices of sex work activists…frighteningly few people in power have been willing to listen…

First They Came for the Hookers… (TW3 #132)

For those who still pretend government is different from organized crime:

…Houston Mayor Annise Parker…cut a deal with a group of strip clubs allowing them to…operate freely in exchange for an annual tax of $1 MILLION!…According to [a Houston Chronicle] article, “The city…has reached a settlement…that would halt enforcement of the three-foot rule and allow dancers to be fully topless in exchange for an annual $1 million donation to help combat human trafficking”…for those who have not completely removed the wool from their eyes, this is what is known…as a…shakedown.  But wait, only 16 clubs were included…so where does that leave the 50+ other strip clubs that have been purposely excluded from this deal?…I would venture…that…vice raids and harassment at these other clubs…will increase tremendously…the Mayor…herself…all but said that the other clubs will now be more routinely targeted…

Another, more obsequious blog reversed the roles by calling the deal “Houston’s dance with the devil” and breathlessly informed its readers that “Houston…has long been regarded as the nation’s hub of human trafficking”; I’d call that a claim for the #1 spot, wouldn’t you?

Due Consideration

I must admit, this one shocked even me:

…a pregnant Italian mother flew to England for a two-week…training course…she had…a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy.  She called the police, who arrived…when she was on the phone to her mother…who explained [to cops] that her daughter was probably over-excited because she suffered from a “bipolar” condition and hadn’t been taking her medication…The police…[took] her to…a psychiatric hospital [where]…she was restrained…[and] sectioned under the Mental Health Act…five weeks later she was…strapped down and forcibly sedated, and when she woke up hours later, found she was in a different hospital and that her baby had been removed by caesarean section while she was unconscious and taken…by social workers.  She was…[then deported] to Italy without her baby…[who was] placed for adoption…Polaris King of the Hill

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324) 

Matthias Lehmann debunks more prohibitionist lies:

Re…“Germany is having second thoughts on legalized prostitution”…Alice Schwarzer’s… book and her appeal against prostitution have been widely criticized for using entirely unreliable data.  The counter-appeal…has been signed by numerous experts, including counseling centers for sex workers and victims of human trafficking as well as social scientists, social workers and sex workers themselves…a majority of the German public has consistently shown not to support a move to roll back the…law…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #326)

I don’t think many sex workers are unhappy about this:  “Germany’s biggest political parties have agreed to ban so-called flat-rate sex offered by some brothels…they view as exploitative the special offers…where men can have unlimited sex for 100 euros ($136)…

R.I.P. Petite Jasmine

In Sweden, sex workers are considered “unfit parents”; child molesters, on the other hand

A Swedish man convicted for molesting a five-year-old girl…has been [allowed] to adopt a child of his own…the man…has been found guilty of more than 90 crimes, mostly different types of fraud…and was also suspected of raping a…teenage girl…the…social affairs committee…found that his risk of relapse was…low…but…members were not given access to…details about his…sex crime…[and] there were no supporting documents to back up the assessment…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #334)

Utrecht city council has agreed [on] a new location for…prostitutes, five months after the licences for most of the…floating brothels were withdrawn…because of concerns the boat owners were involved in human trafficking…The prostitutes, some of whom had attempted to take over the boats themselves, will be relocated to a new location with 162 workspaces…The city is also introducing a minimum age of 21…and…in order to prevent a monopoly…owners will only be given three-year licences for no more than 20% of the windows.

Under Every Bed (TW3 #335)

I take back anything nice I’ve said about Al-Jazeera and “sex trafficking” mythology; this example of the new “gang” myth-motif (complete with the magic mind-control philter and confusion about the meaning of the verb “to sell”) is as bad as anything in the American media:

Washington DC…gangs are prostituting underage girls…Prosecutors say the pimps gave their victims drugs…to keep them submissive… “[prostitutes] can be considered a ‘reusable resource’…if you’re going to deal marijuana or cocaine; you use it up, you have to find another source or supply”…

The article does admit that “relatively little is known about the overall nature or extent of juvenile prostitution in the United States,” but of course that never stops prohibitionists from making grandiose pronouncements.

A War for Peace (TW3 #336) Femen at Artemis

Oh, the irony:

…Femen staged a topless protest outside one of Germany’s biggest brothels, as part of a campaign promoting [the Swedish model]…The women chanted “Go rape yourselves” and…briefly scuffled with the club staff…before being led away by police…Femen held a similar protest in Amsterdam earlier this month…Femen leader Inna Shevchenko said…”Prostitution is not a women’s industry, it’s a business controlled by men”…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #336)

Still more victims of the Satanic panic released from prison:

Fran and Dan Keller…[were] released after 21 years in prison…The case…was part of national hysteria over alleged sexual abuse with Satanic overtones…therapists were subsequently criticized for having implanted the bizarre allegations into the minds of children…[Defense attorney Keith] Hampton…has vowed to work to completely exonerate the Kellers…

Whimsical Notions

Think this would’ve happened if legal, professional whores were available to soldiers?  “Female soldiers at Fort Hood [Texas] testified…that they were recruited for a prostitution ring set up by a sergeant involved in the sexual assault and harassment program…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #345)

This might make sense if selling sex were a bona fide criminal act, AND if nearly all clients only paid once in their lives:

…public defender Edgar Lin [had] filed motions to dismiss the two counts against Alexis L. Smith…99 percent of…arrested [clients]…never faced criminal charges, while 40 percent of the prostitutes were criminally charged…The discrepancy formed the basis of Lin’s argument that his client’s right to equal protection had been violated…But…Judge Mark McGinnis ruled that the patrons and prostitutes are not similarly situated, because the prostitutes…have ongoing criminal activity, while the johns typically only commit a single crime…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #348)

Another lurid, dysphemism-laden article on Brazilian sex work; this one conflates child, underage and adult prostitution, plays a shell game with agency, blames sex workers for the sadistic actions of police and has a faint Swedish odor in places.  All in all, a truly noxious mixture.

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Prostitution in the towns is like the cesspool in the palace: take away the cesspool and the palace will become an unclean and evil-smelling place. –  St. Thomas Aquinas

Last week, there was some controversy over comments about prostitutes made by the Pope in a book-length published interview series, but the issue was clarified in a statement released by the Vatican on Tuesday (November 23rd).  The following is paraphrased from an AP release:

In a book released last week, Pope Benedict XVI said that condom use by people such as male prostitutes was a lesser evil since it indicated they were taking a step toward a more moral and responsible sexuality by aiming to protect their partners from a deadly infection.  His comments implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception, which the Vatican opposes.  But questions immediately arose about the Pope’s intent because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

The Vatican spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, told reporters Tuesday that he asked the Pope whether he intended his comments to only apply to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.  “I personally asked the Pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said.  “He told me no.  The problem is this… It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship…this is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual.  We’re at the same point,” Lombardi said.

The Pope is not justifying or condoning gay sex or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage, and elsewhere in the book he reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.  But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the Pope is saying that condom use in heterosexual relations is the lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner – a significant shift for a pope who just last year said condoms only worsen the AIDS problem.

While the concept of lesser evils has long been a tenet of moral theology, the Pope’s book Light of the World — a series of interviews with a German journalist — was the first time any pope has ever publicly applied the theory to the scenario of condom use as a way to fight HIV transmission.  The comments have generated heated debate, mostly positive in places like Africa which has been devastated by AIDS and where the church has been criticized for its opposition to condom use.

If you would like some insider commentary on the story, you might try this column by  a Jesuit priest; it’s one of the few informed public opinions I’ve seen expressed on the issue since the story first broke last week.  Everyone else seemed to be more interested in using the initial statement as an excuse to either run around spouting silly anti-Catholic opinions or to praise Pope Benedict for moving the Church forward, when in fact neither is correct.  What the critics forget is that the Catholic Church is a monolithic, two-millennium old institution which is (unless I’m very much mistaken) the oldest continuous, centrally-directed international organization on Earth; one of the reasons it has lasted so long is that it changes only very slowly and methodically, but in our instant-gratification culture that is automatically considered a bad thing.  On the other hand, those who praise the Pope for changing with the times are really barking up the wrong tree; the Pope’s comments were only the end result of a long, slow process of doctrinal change which begun soon after AIDS was identified, and the Church’s de facto tolerance of prostitutes goes back to its earliest days.

St. Augustine wrote, “Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.”  This position was not unusual in his day; though priests and theologians were dealing in the ephemeral matters of soul and morality, most of them were also practical men who, unlike most modern legalistic idealists, recognized that human beings are imperfect and incapable of total adherence to any code of behavior.  So rather than setting up impossible standards which many if not most people would often fail to meet (as we do today), the Church fathers recognized the need for safety valves which would allow people to blow off steam and thereby avoid great wrongs and mortal sins by tolerating lesser wrongs and venial sins.  Unlike the later Protestant preachers who blasted even the smallest deviations from what they saw as “Godliness”, the Catholics encouraged temperate celebrations, turned a blind eye to vices like drinking and accepted prostitution as a lesser evil than rape and the seduction of otherwise-virtuous wives and daughters.  In the earliest times even priests were allowed concubines (called focarii, “hearth-girls), and until the 13th century whores were largely free to ply their trade everywhere in Christendom.  Even after that time, prostitution was still largely legal, but the position of the Church (and most governments) turned to tolerating the profession but attempting to redeem as many whores as possible by teaching them the “error of their ways”, sometimes forcibly by confining them to convents or “Magdalene homes”.

The reader must not make the mistake of believing that whores themselves were socially accepted in early Christian times; far from it.  They were condemned as sinners and sermons frequently warned men to stay away from them.  But because they served a necessary social function the Church basically advocated leaving their punishment to God and allowing them to serve as repositories for male sin; the quote from Aquinas which forms today’s epigram illustrates the attitude quite graphically.  The Church’s view of whores was thus exactly the same as the modern policy of “harm reduction” followed by the Netherlands and other cultures more enlightened than ours, which recognizes that the harm created by suppressing vices is usually greater than those created by allowing them.  By tolerating heroin use, for example, a government does not say that heroin is a wonderful thing which everyone should indulge in; rather, it recognizes that since people are going to do it anyway it’s better to give them clean needles and make sure the drug is relatively pure so addicts aren’t dropping dead in the gutter and spreading bloodborne diseases on their way there.

The Pope’s new comments on prostitutes merely follow this same longstanding philosophy in the Church.  Though Catholic dogma considers condom use a sin because condoms interfere with conception, prostitutes are already sinners and their use of condoms can therefore be permitted in order to prevent the greater evil of AIDS.  Just as the medieval Church condemned prostitutes yet allowed them to “live in sin” in order to prevent the greater evils of rape and fornication in the population as a whole, so Pope Benedict condemns prostitutes (especially homosexual ones) and yet advocates they use condoms so as to prevent the greater evil of AIDS in the general population.  For anyone familiar with Church history and procedure, this development was completely unsurprising either in its essence or in the amount of time it took to arrive.  But having said that, I must also say that I think it’s pretty sad that an ancient and hierarchical institution noted neither for its liberality nor its worldliness should be able to embrace the humane and realistic principle of harm reduction while a modern, pluralistic and ostensibly democratic nation with a long history of being in the forefront of civil rights seems bound and determined to oppose it.

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