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Posts Tagged ‘The Shape of the Spoon’

In the current environment, we…have no choice but to suspend service.  –  Massage Republic

The Notorious Badge

Whatever one’s opinion of this show, it’s great that the media is listening to sex workers’ opinions of our media depictions:

The Twitter account for Mistress May…primarily tweets links to positive reviews of the Netflix show Bonding…because Mistress May is a fictional Twitter account created by Netflix to promote the show…unlike [real] sex workers on Twitter, Mistress May is verified…on a website that…partakes in discriminatory behavior against…sex workers [many] are outraged that Twitter would provide a platform for a fictional sex worker from a show that they have argued promotes an inaccurate and outright harmful view of their profession…

The Shape of the Spoon

If the mother doesn’t mind, how is it the state’s place to interfere?

…Jerri [Lee’s] son took an interest in drag when he was “around 3 or 4”…Jerri viewed Jacob’s love of drag as no different from her older son’s desire to play football.  It was harmless, and it didn’t hurt anyone.  Although Jacob performed as “Miss Mae Hem” at local Pride events, no one ever made an issue of it until a Facebook page…picked up a video of him performing…in December…the situation immediately began to be twisted into something it wasn’t.  [Trolls] claimed Jacob was “stripping” and giving audience members “lap dances.”  A Facebook user…made a poster saying the event was part of “Lancaster’s Pedophilia Night.”  Other…trolls…found where she lived and published the family’s address online.  They called several local police departments, children’s services, the sheriff’s office, and even the FBI…children’s services found no probable cause to investigate…[but] in early April…[politician] Tim Schaffer…introduced a bill [in the Ohio House]…to ban…adults from putting on any performance…which [perverts claim]…“appeals to prurient interest”…[naturally prohibitionists] claim it’s intended to curb sex trafficking…

What kind of pervert thinks a child playing dress-up is innately sexual, even if the costume is a cross-dressing one?

Watershed

When teen fashion magazines publish articles like this, prohibition’s days are numbered:

…continued criminalization of sex work and sex workers is a form of violence by governments and contributes to the high level of stigma and discrimination.  A systematic review and meta-analysis led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), for instance, has found that sex workers who have experienced “repressive policing” (including arrest, extortion, and violence from police) are three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence.  But governments often fail to accept the evidence for the economic and social bases for sex work…They also ignore the wishes of sex workers, who want full decriminalization, as supported by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and the Lancet, as well as human rights organizations like Amnesty International…sex worker rights are women’s rights, health rights, labor rights, and the litmus test for intersectional feminism…

Even the hopelessly-whitebread USA Today is getting there:

Decriminalization of sex work is just the first step in creating a more just world.  Even if all sex work were decriminalized tomorrow, large swaths of the sex working population would still face over-policing.  People of color, African-Americans especially, are routinely targeted by law enforcement for harassment and face disproportionate rates of arrest and violence at the hands of police.  Similarly, transgender individuals are regularly profiled as sex workers or other members of the street economy, and thus treated as criminals from the start…We must move beyond this culture of incarceration and policing…

To Molest and Rape 

Don’t ever think rapist cops are limited to the US:

A [typical and representative] garda who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman…has lost an [attempt to reduce his already-low]…two year prison sentence.  The [rapist]…pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at a Mayo hotel, in July 2015…the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had gotten into the sleeping woman’s bed and was discovered by her husband with his trousers down.  He initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to guilty at a late stage of his trial…

Repeat Offenders (#704)

Even when it isn’t garment-related, “rescuers” invariably want to push sex workers into some kind of traditional feminine menial labor:

Noel Yeatts…of World Help…[describes well-paid sex work as] misery…and [wants to push]…the Gospel [on them while forcing them into]…a new baking school in Pattaya, one of the centres of Thailand’s booming sex industry…[in her looking glass weltanschauung lucrative, flexible] sex [work is]…keeping girls enslaved and…[low-paid] baking [for some cafe owner is]…freedom…

Welcome To Our World (#758)

Rape victims are increasingly treated like criminals:

Victims of crimes, including those alleging rape, are to be asked to hand their phones over to police – or risk prosecutions not going ahead.  Consent forms asking for permission to [root like pigs through private] information including emails, messages and photographs have been rolled out in England and Wales…police and prosecutors say the forms can plug a gap in the law which says complainants and witnesses cannot be forced to [let the pigs dig through their lives looking for information with which to charge the complainants with crimes rather than actually having to investigate the crimes they reported]…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#788) 

It’s never called “trafficking” when the government or a crony does it:

A nationally renowned drug rehab program in Texas and Louisiana has sent patients struggling with addiction to work for free for some of the biggest companies in America, likely in violation of federal labor law.  The Cenikor Foundation has dispatched tens of thousands of patients to work without pay at more than 300 for-profit companies over the years.  In the name of rehabilitation, patients have moved boxes in a sweltering warehouse for Walmart, built an oil platform for Shell and worked at an Exxon refinery along the Mississippi River…Cenikor…[pretends]…work helps people recover from addiction…participants have to do is surrender their pay to cover the costs of the two-year program.  But the constant work leaves little time for counseling or treatment, transforming the rehab into little more than a cheap and expendable labor pool…At some job sites, participants lacked proper supervision, safety equipment and training, leading to routine injuries…Labor experts say Cenikor’s entire business model might be illegal under federal labor law…

Disaster (#831)

When even a government propaganda outlet criticizes a law, you know it’s bad:

A popular sex classified website said…that it was shutting down its services in the United States, citing the likelihood that legal challenges would fail to overturn a…federal [censorship] law…passed by Congress a year ago.  The decision by MassageRepublic.com marks the latest indication that…FOSTA-SESTA…has made it difficult for websites selling [classified ads] to survive…

Checklist (#854)

The scheme to cut sex workers off from the healthcare system continues:

[Alabama politicians] considered four [anti-sex] bills…Two…would require health care workers and new commercial drivers to go through [anti-whore] training…The third…allow[s pigs] to publish pictures of those [caught in stings]. The goal is to [imitate other states who have similar laws, in “monke see, monkey do” fashion]…The last…increases the penalties for certain buildings that don’t have [magic anti-whore] posters…

Worse Than I Thought (#869)

The hotel industry is really going to regret having collaborated with fanatics rather than fighting “sex trafficking” hysteria:

McAllen [Texas] police have arrested the manager of a local motel…on a charge of continuous human trafficking…Lucila Saucedo [was arrested]…on a charge of promoting prostitution…[for charging sex workers an hourly room rate]…The human trafficking charge against Saucedo is a first-degree felony and carries a penalty of at least 25 years in prison…

O, Canada! (#918)

Canadian cops continue to try to sell their grotesque sex worker intimidation tactics as “helping” them:

…sex workers across Ontario have described aggressive surveillance and abuse at the hands of [cops, bureaucrats] and [spooks]…massage parlour…work[ers are]…confronted by pervasive surveillance, harassment and abuse from [cops]…under the pretence of “human trafficking” investigations…these unwanted visits are driven by moral panic rather than evidence…Encouraged by the conflation of sex work and human trafficking, [cops] are increasingly invading sex workers’ spaces under the guise of protection and “rescue”.  But their “protection” is unwanted, misdirected and outright harmful…sex workers interviewed [by journalists] universally describe…abuse including assault, intimidation, harassment, threats, retaliation, extortion, unwarranted searches and seizures, and arbitrary or disproportionate application of the law…

Rough Trade (#923)

Imagine this actually going to trial in the US:

A man who removed his condom during…sex with a prostitute has been jailed for 12 years for raping her.  Lee Hogben…ignored his…victim’s repeated objections and carried on [raping]…her…Hogben denied the charge of rape but was found guilty following a trial.  After being [sentenced] Hogben threatened to shoot the…judge…Hogben [had also] threatened [the escort] with violence…and…left without paying…her…

Worse Than I Thought (#925)

Florida prohibitionists are doubling down on their awful anti-whore laws:

…[prohibitionists fantasize that] “If human trafficking was to discontinue…motel owners…would be out of business”…[politicians] must also resolve their differences over…a database of people found guilty of  “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring” another to commit “prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.”  The loose definition [ensures that] sex workers…[will] be [included] in the [registry], but [politician] Fitzenhagen [doesn’t give a shit because]…“I think it’s a disgrace that sex workers are coming before the House and Senate, saying you are going to make me scared of the police, reduce my income and hurt my family if I get arrested,” she said. Well, guess what, prostitution is illegal”…

“I think it’s a disgrace that Negroes are coming before the House and Senate, saying they are scared of the police” –  Heather Fitzenhagen, 1959

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In raids…police and media objectify women in order to publicise state action.  –  Annie Hill

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Enjoy the rest of your life on the “sex offender” registry, “officer”:

Charles County [Maryland] Sheriff’s Deputy Alexander C. Sullivan…has been charged federally with possession of child pornography…the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received four [snitches] from a company that provides cloud security concerning suspected child pornography being uploaded to a specific telephone number in October and November…A [cop] from the Charles County Sheriff’s Department conducted a search on the telephone number and…recognized Sullivan’s name…A state search warrant for Sullivan and his telephone was executed in Charles County on November 17…[finding] more than 200 images and five videos containing child pornography…If convicted, Sullivan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison…

Wise Investment

Much more of this, please:

…three suburban teenagers are suing six Detroit police officers over accusations of arresting and mistreating them during a summer prostitution sting that ended with the teens getting dropped off in an unfamiliar area of the city and ordered to walk home to Dearborn…the [pigs] drove the boys through neighborhoods at “reckless speeds” without activating emergency lights or sirens; impounded their car and said it would cost “thousands of dollars” to get it back; took a photo of one of the handcuffed boys and broadcast it on the Internet using the Snapchat app, and laughed and joked about the arrest…All of this…because the…teens were trying to flag down a relative and stop him from approaching a [lying pig pretending to be a sex worker]…The teens were charged with interfering with police activity, but the charges were later dismissed…

Surplus Women 

The Daily News is so dedicated to its sleazy language, it won’t even skip it when reporting the brutal murder of a young woman:

A Long Island woman hired for sex via Craigslist was bludgeoned to death with a hammer when her unhinged client didn’t want to pay…At some point during the carnal quid-pro-quo, an argument over compensation led [Raphael] Oyague to attack the victim…Two delivery workers found the woman’s battered body in the weeds behind Oyague’s apartment building [the next day]…Detectives later found a trail of blood leading from the body to the vicinity of Oyague’s back door…

The Shape of the Spoon

Even if the mother is angry at what she obviously sees as interference in her family, does she actually believe suing her own offspring will result in some positive outcome for their relationship, especially given that the most she could accomplish is delaying the transition by a few months (until the magical Moment of Shazam)?

A Minnesota mother is suing her teenage child for transitioning from male to female without her permission.  Anmarie Calgaro is also suing the 17-year-old’s doctors and public health and school officials…Calgaro says the St. Louis County school district, where the teen is a student, has taken away her parental rights and refused to release records to her.  The lawsuit includes a copy of a letter of emancipation the teen obtained from a lawyer, but notes that the letter doesn’t constitute a court order.  Calgaro is asking the court to halt all medical services…

This kind of nonsense will continue until the law recognizes “teenage child” as an oxymoron.

Imaginary Evils

Huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

On Sept. 30, 2005, UK West Midlands police raided a massage parlour called Cuddles…”As we anticipated that there would be a lot of half-dressed ladies…25 female [cops] went in…first, to ensure that the women were decent before the male officers went in”…[bragged  Inspector Mark] Nevitt…[of course] male [cops] had already seen “half-dressed ladies” when they entered Cuddles posing as clients.  The difference on this day was that police had invited the media to record the rescue of “sex slaves”…[so] millions of people in Britain and beyond would view these women via media coverage…Within days, police [admitted] they had not discovered victims of trafficking, but women engaging in sex work…Although police raids operate on the premise that they make the invisible visible – exposing the hidden world of trafficking – the[y actually render]…the visible invisible.  That is, the raid hides the repression of sex workers in plain sight by framing it as the rescue of “sex slaves”.  Raids thus appear to produce happy endings…but…cloak…rights violations against sex workers…

Sex Rays

Our descendants will be confused about why we thought this sort of thing was noteworthy:

Cheetah Gentlemen’s Club in [Florida] has again partnered with Rodriguez Charities to host their annual 1,000 Free Turkeys event to help families in need this Thanksgiving holiday…The free birds are limited to one per family on a first come, first served basis…

Traffic Jam (#347)

Look for similar headlines 22 years from now about people railroaded on “sex trafficking” charges:

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals…ruled in favor the “San Antonio Four”…who have fought to clear their names after being convicted…in 1994 of sexually assaulting Ramirez’s young nieces…Seven of the nine judges heard the case.  All agreed that the women should get a new trial, and five said the women are actually innocent, a move that paves the way for them to seek state compensation for their imprisonment…Their case was the subject of a documentarySouthwest of SalemThe women…said the toughest part of prison was serving time in solitary for refusing to take part in the sex offender program…attending was a condition for early parole, but it required inmates to admit deviant behavior, which they couldn’t do…

The Widening Gyre (#546)

The New York Times piously decries the harm caused to dozens of “real people” by “fake news sites” spreading exaggerated lies about “sex trafficking”, while ignoring the damage to millions of real people caused by its OWN spreading of exaggerated lies on the exact same topic:

Days before the presidential election, James Alefantis, owner of a…pizza restaurant called Comet Ping Pong, noticed an unusual spike in the number of his Instagram followers.  Within hours, menacing messages like “we’re on to you” began appearing in his…feed.  In the ensuing days, hundreds of death threats…started arriving via texts, Facebook and Twitter.  All of them alleged…that Comet Ping Pong was the home base of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton…Alefantis discovered…dozens of made-up articles about Mrs. Clinton kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in the restaurant’s back rooms.  The articles appeared on Facebook and on websites such as The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen, with one headline blaring: “Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite”…Alefantis…and his 40 employees had unwittingly become real people caught in the middle of a storm of fake news…

Dysphemisms Galore (#577) 

Because nobody would care about a headline reading, “Co-workers mind woman’s children while she works”:

Sixteen people were arrested after a prostitution ring came to Knoxville [Tennessee.  Pigs]…discovered that one of the women had two…young children, a one-year-old and a three-year-old, [who] were found returning to a hotel with two non-related men.  The children [were abducted from their mother and given to]…the Department of Children’s Services…

To Molest and Rape 

Because “improper sexual activity” sounds so much nicer than “rape with a club”:

Investigators have arrested a Hidalgo County jailer accused of [raping] an inmate with a baton…At about 7 a.m. on Nov. 1, [the victim] was sleeping on a bench…Jailers attempted to wake [him] so they could fingerprint and photograph him…A jailer who witnessed the incident filed a sworn statement “confirming that he observed…Michael Hinojosa push his ASP Baton into [the victim’s] anus…at least four to five times”…Several jailers confirmed the [report]…

I’m really pleased to see pigs turning on one another; they’ve begun to realize that surveillance works against their lies.

Opting Out (#639)

Only three years from the time I predicted this to actual implementation:

Web users in the UK will be banned from accessing websites portraying a range of non-conventional sexual acts, under a little discussed clause…of the digital economy bill, [which] would force internet service providers to block sites hosting content that would not be certified for commercial DVD sale by the British Board of Film Classification…It is contained within provisions…designed to enforce strict age verification checks to stop [legal minors] accessing adult websites…many mainstream adult websites would have to render whole sections inaccessible to UK audiences…despite the acts shown being legal for consenting over-16s to perform and for adults in almost all other liberal countries to film, distribute and watch…The censorship regime has led to bizarre understandings between the producers and regulators…[such as] the “four-finger rule”, which limits the number of digits that can be inserted into an orifice…

British readers: here you go.

Too Close To Home (#672)

Note that this reporter, who resisted the truth when Liz Brown called it to her attention, has now dropped all talk of “sex trafficking” and “slaves” from her reporting on the matter:

Two men arrested in the sex-solicitation bust…in January were sentenced…to 240 hours of community service, a [propaganda program]…and fines…Another man connected to the case…was sentenced…to 60 days in jail, 12 months probation, community service and…the same [propaganda sessions].  They were arrested along with more than a dozen others for…discuss[ing consensual adult sex]…Several court cases related to the bust are ongoing…

Wise Investment (#673)

A better memorial to this woman would be eradicating the horrible laws she fought so hard against:

Hamburg recently announced that it would name one of its streets after a famous German activist who was once a prostitute.  Domenica Anita Niehoff, who passed away in February 2009 due to a lung disease, was a fierce advocate for the rights of sex workers…and made efforts in appearing on television shows in order to re-sculpt social attitudes towards sex and prostitution.  She also worked towards helping [drug-addicted sex workers]…Niehoff gradually began starring in feature films like Desperado City (1981) and Messalina – Kaiserin und Hure (1977) and became an increasingly known figure in mainstream conversations…she was laid to rest in the Garden of Women at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery…among honoured women (many of whom died opposing the Nazi regime)…

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The police…should…sow trust among the community rather than alienate some…whose actions should not be considered a crime to begin with.  –  Udi Ofer

Saving Them From Themselves

Prosecutors have the magical ability to transform a “child” into an adult, but only for the purpose of wantonly destroying innocent lives:

Austin Yabandith, a 17-year-old from Superior, Wisconsin [was charged with sexual assault of a child, sexual exploitation, and possession of child pornography]…after [a school cop found nude] photos of Austin’s 15-year-old girlfriend on his cell phone—as well as a video of the couple having sex…the age of consent in Wisconsin is 18, which means Austin is…under-age, just like the girlfriend he is accused of exploiting.  But Wisconsin’s sex offender laws [allow]…17-year-olds [to] be charged as adults—even though the law considers them to be children and incapable of consenting to sex…In many U.S. jurisdictions, the law permits consensual relationships [between]  underage teens if the [elder] is no more than four years older than the [younger]…Wisconsin is one of a handful of states with no Romeo and Juliet exception…even though it’s perfectly normal for teens to form…relationships with other teens, fall in love, and [have] sex…

And how did the cop “discover” the photos?  By intimidating the boy into “allowing” him to search the phone.

Above the Law  rapist-politician-richard-keenan

He once said, “Dedicating my life to Jesus has changed my life.”

…Richard Keenan, who served as mayor of Hubbard [Ohio] in 2010 and 2011, was indicted [for] eight counts of rape and 12 counts of attempted rape and gross sexual imposition…Keenan pleaded not guilty…but prosecutors said he admitted to sexually assaulting the girl over a three-year period, beginning when she was 4 years old…Keenan confessed…to his wife, a pastor, a social worker and his brother- and sister-in-law…[after] the child told Keenan’s wife about the abuse and she confronted him…he blamed the child for initiating the sex acts and described her as a “willing participant”…

The Shape of the Spoon

The reason why people view sex work as an “unacceptable” risk for women, while simultaneously encouraging us to become cops, join the military, etc:

…Ashley Thomas…the lead author of a recently published study…note that legal norms needn’t follow inaccurate beliefs about risks.  “The fact that many people irrationally fear air travel does not result in air travel being criminalized…Parents are not arrested for bringing their children with them on airplanes.  In contrast, parents are arrested and prosecuted for allowing their children to wait in cars, play in parks, or walk through their neighborhoods without an adult”…The researchers…created a series of surveys asking participants to rate the danger to children left alone in…specific circumstances…The reasons for the parent’s absence were varied randomly…“A mother’s unintentional absence was seen as safer for the child than a mother’s intentional absence for any reason, and a mother’s work-related absence was seen as more dangerous than an unintentional absence, but less dangerous than if the mother left to pursue an illicit sexual affair,” they write.  The same was true for fathers, except that respondents rated leaving for work as posing no greater danger than leaving unintentionally.  Moral disapproval informed beliefs about risks…“People…think that leaving children alone is…immoral and therefore dangerous.  That is, people overestimate the actual danger to children who are left alone by their parents, in order to better support or justify their moral condemnation of parents who do so”…

Pyrrhic Victory

Surveillance beyond the wildest dreams of the Stasi:

Under a new set of rules, the FBI would have the authority to secretly use malware to hack into thousands or hundreds of thousands of computers that belong to innocent third parties and even crime victims…The new plan…is known formally as amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the proposal would allow the government to hack a million computers or more with a single warrant.  If Congress doesn’t pass legislation blocking this proposal, the new rules go into effect on December 1…The government [pretends] it needs this power to investigate a network of devices infected with malware…what’s known as a “botnet”.  But the…amendments…are woefully short on protections for the [privacy]…of innocent Americans…

Micromanagement

I really hate being right all the fucking time:

Over the last decade, collecting DNA from people who are not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime has become an increasingly routine practice for police in smaller cities…in Florida…Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North Carolina…While the largest cities typically operate public labs and feed DNA samples into the FBI’s national database, [small] cities…have assembled databases of their own…in partnership with private labs that offer such fast, cheap testing that police can afford to amass DNA even to investigate minor crimes…some…have quietly begun [coercing] people to turn over DNA…during traffic stops…or…chance encounters with police…Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania…pays for the testing…with…money [stolen from citizens]…Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in a crime before requiring a search or seizure.  But the notion of collecting DNA [by coerced “consent”] is still so new that the ground rules remain uncertain.  Who can give such consent and what must they be told about what they’re consenting to?  Who decides how long to keep these samples and what can be done with them?…Automated “Rapid DNA” machines allow police to analyze DNA right at the station in a mere 90 minutes…but…police departments’ private databases…are subject to no state or federal regulation or oversight…

Delightful Conversation 

The stupidity defense:

A man who ran an escort agency…was cleared of any wrongdoing.  Prosecutors proved Candy Girls offered sexual services…The…[various defendants all were found] guilty…[except for] Karl Jackson…[who] left school at 15 with no qualifications and always looked up to his older brother, Leon, who [owned the agency]…When interviewed by police in 2014, he said he ran a “companionship service” and never suspected the girls had sex with clients.  When asked what this involved, he said: “A companion who’s going to sit there and do everything your girlfriend did do, just watch telly and maybe clean your house, I don’t know”…

Wise Investment (#428)

A better monument to the victims would be eradicating the horrible laws that made their murders possible:

After years in the making, a sex worker memorial in Vancouver’s West End [was] unveiled…Friday.  The monument will honour the sex workers who once were part of a flourishing community before being expelled from the area…after a July 1984 Supreme Court injunction by Justice Allan McEachern…During the 1970s and ’80s, the West End was home to a tightly knit, diverse community of sex workers, she says, who kept the area pimp-free…The City of Vancouver has put $28,000 into funding the monument — the same amount it raised in fines against sex workers and consumers during enforcement of its 1982 bylaw…The memorial’s location, at Jervis and Pendrell Streets, marks a convergence of the old sex worker strolls.  It also is in front of St Paul’s Anglican Church, which often offered refuge…

Down Under (#518)

In the US, the government would’ve “helped” by prosecuting her:

A [New Zealand] sex worker’s five-year restraining order has been reinstated after years of harassment from a client that was obsessed with her.  After first paying for her services in 2012, the man began a systematic campaign of harassment when his advances were spurned…The man…would wait for her outside work and hired a private detective…to track down her identity…When she filed for a restraining order, the client went out of his way to protract a course of legal action that was used to “play” with the woman…The man, known in court papers as NR or Mr N, and woman, known as MR, have permanent name suppression and were referred to in court documents as R and M respectively.  The recently-released decision stated that M is allowed to file further evidence, seek reinstatement of indemnity costs and her restraining order for a period of five years has been reinstated…R’s appeals…have been dismissed and he must pay M’s costs…

My First Million (#568)

I hit the 5 million pageview mark just a little after 4:00 UTC last Tuesday, September 13th (a little after 9 PM Monday evening here in Seattle).  Thanks to all the readers who made it happen!
5000000

What Were You All Waiting For? (#654) 

Let’s hope other ACLU chapters start following New Jersey’s lead:

…The Newark Police Department’s 13 arrests on charges related to prostitution over the weekend raise concerns yet again about Newark’s embrace of failed and destructive “Broken Windows” policing strategies.  Using our criminal justice system to harass, arrest and incarcerate consenting adults who agree to exchange sex for money is a poor use of the NPD’s limited resources.  These arrests harm public health by stigmatizing sex workers and making their lives more difficult and dangerous.  These crackdowns harm public safety by stoking fear of police among sex workers…We urge the City to explore harm reduction…and to reject failed approaches of criminalization…Sex work should not be criminalized…

Of Course It Is

Because obviously, the prosecutor couldn’t simply exercise his discretion and decline to press charges:

[Celeste Guap]…remained jailed in Florida…but was offered a plea deal that could hasten her return to California…the assistant state attorney in Martin County, David Lustgarten, said Monday that he is charging Guap with misdemeanor battery.  “The evidence did not lead me to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a felony was committed,” he said.  Lustgarten said he offered a plea bargain to the young woman…

She was allowed to plead “no contest” to the reduced charge, and returned to California on Wednesday while her attorney belched out “sex trafficking” rhetoric.

Mote and the Beam (#672) 

Alas, the victory was short-lived:  “The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to block subpoenas issued to Backpage.com by a Senate committee that is investigating its alleged role in facilitating child sex trafficking…

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Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.  –  E.M. Forster

Part of the process of growing up is becoming an individual, defining oneself as a unique entity separate from one’s parents and other authority figures; it starts at about the age of two, when we begin to set boundaries by the act of refusal.  From that point there develops a dynamic interaction in which children continually seek to expand their autonomy while parents work to contain that expansion to a greater or lesser degree (depending upon the temperaments of both parent and child).  Wise parents apply only as much constraint as is strictly necessary to keep the child from undertaking risks for which he is unprepared and might seriously harm him, but those less wise and/or more controlling attempt to establish regimes ranging from the somewhat overprotective to the wholly tyrannical.  My mother was somewhere near the middle of this spectrum; as I explained in my column of one year ago yesterday she “seemed bound and determined to control my natural free-spiritedness and to delay my sexual maturation for as long as possible,” and so tried to bind me with rules more appropriate to girls several years younger.  I of course saw these limits as arbitrary and unfair, and therefore disobeyed them in every way I could; because I was clever and resourceful and my mother was not equipped with the spying resources and cultural support available to modern overprotective parents, I was nearly always able to break the rules without getting caught and suffering the consequences.

Unfortunately for modern teens, overparenting has now become the rule rather than the exception, and even those parents who might be inclined to allow a healthy and stimulating degree of autonomy are hampered by ever-increasing legal restrictions on young people, a large fraction of which inflict criminal penalties on parents for the “crime” of actually allowing their offspring age-appropriate levels of autonomy  rather than treating them as helpless children until 18.  Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids   chronicles these outrages, including cases of a mother threatened with “child neglect” for allowing her daughter to bicycle to school, a 12-year-old boy arrested for “walking alone” and a father charged with “child endangerment”  for letting his kids play in the park without hovering over them.  Legal restrictions on young people have constantly increased since the mid-19th century, and our society now expects people to remain irresponsible, incompetent “children” until they’re 18 (in some ways, 21) and then to instantly transform into adults upon reaching a certain date on a calendar, without any preparation for that assumption of responsibility whatsoever.

I recently found a March, 2007 Psychology Today interview with psychologist Robert Epstein in which he explains how Western culture invented the concept of “adolescence” and why it’s terrible both for young people and for society:

In every mammalian species, immediately upon reaching puberty, animals function as adults, often having offspring.  We call our offspring “children” well past puberty.  The trend started a hundred years ago and now…the whole culture collaborates in artificially extending childhood, primarily through the school system and restrictions on labor.  The two systems evolved together in the late 19th-century; the advocates of compulsory-education laws also pushed for child-labor laws, restricting the ways young people could work, in part to protect them from the abuses of the new factories.  The juvenile justice system came into being at the same time.  All of these systems isolate teens from adults, often in problematic ways…

Imagine what it would feel like—or think back to what it felt like—when your body and mind are telling you you’re an adult while the adults around you keep insisting you’re a child.  This infantilization makes many young people angry or depressed…we have completely isolated young people from adults and created a peer culture.  We stick them in school and keep them from working in any meaningful way, and if they do something wrong we put them in a pen with other “children.”  In most nonindustrialized societies, young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil.  Many cultures do not even have a term for adolescence…But [in the West] young people can’t own things, can’t sign contracts, and they can’t do anything meaningful without parental permission—permission that can be withdrawn at any time.  They can’t marry, can’t have sex, can’t legally drink.  The list goes on.  They are restricted and infantilized to an extraordinary extent.  In recent surveys I’ve found that American teens are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many as incarcerated felons.  Psychologist Diane Dumas and I also found a correlation between infantilization and psychological dysfunction.  The more young people are infantilized, the more psychopathology they show.  What’s more, since 1960, restrictions on teens have been accelerating.  Young people are restricted in ways no adult would be—for example, in some states they are prohibited from entering tanning salons or getting tattoos…Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures.  In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries.  This makes no sense.  Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become.  When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world…they have no idea what’s going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out…

Though I don’t have kids of my own, I clearly remember how the word “child” was applied like a branding iron every time I had an idea of my own or wanted to do something outside the rigid script.  I hated the triviality of the “adolescent” world and longed to escape it, and I’ve often wondered how much less rebellious I might’ve been had the limits placed upon me by “authorities” been more reasonable and acknowledged my right to autonomy, self-determination and independent thought.  And due to the exponential growth of laws restricting even adult behavior, that really hasn’t changed except for the merciful removal of one layer of government (my parents) from my back; I still have to deal with busybodies who think they understand what’s good for me better than I do, and who are dedicated to sticking their noses into every aspect of my private life and punishing me with violence, robbery and forcible confinement if I have the nerve to demand full control over my own body, sexuality, property and life.  Epstein’s article demonstrates that most of the problems we associate with teens derives from the artificial restrictions we place upon them, and tomorrow I’ll show how these problems reflect in miniature the damage a police state inflicts upon our entire culture.

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