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Posts Tagged ‘Tyranny by Consensus’

[Cops are] notorious for using data out of context or drawing grand conclusions that data ultimately do not support.  –  John Hudak

The Enlightenment Police 

Australia appears much more committed to human rights than Europe:

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has triggered a firestorm around religious freedoms, after wearing a burqa into [the Australian] Parliament, a stunt that has united all sides of politics in condemnation…As senators could be heard groaning and gasping at her entrance, Senate President Stephen Parry confirmed it was Senator Hanson beneath the face covering, while seeming unsure of how to officially respond to the performance…Attorney-General George Brandis showed no hesitation.  When Senator Hanson whipped off the garment with a dramatic flourish…and asked Senator Brandis if the government would join her in banning the burqa, he did not hold back.  “Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa,” he said, visibly angry, and looking at one point like he was close to tears… “we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith…be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.  We have about 500,000 Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians…to ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do”…

Change a Few Words

All prohibitionism is the same:

Government-rooted misinformation has long been central to the very existence of War on Drugs…the Drug War has always been fueled by alleged facts that have no basis in reality…As most state and federal research documenting the impact of legalized marijuana show encouraging results reflecting responsible regulation, one federally funded agency is still producing reports that paint a very different reality.  Reports from High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas [figure heavily in]…anti-legalization campaign[s]…[but] the reports are “garbage”, according to John Hudak, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institute who studies (maintaining a neutral position) marijuana legalization…

The Last Shall Be First (#38)

Pakistan surpasses the US in at least one area of civil rights:

Pakistan’s Parliament is poised to pass the nation’s first law recognizing transgender people as equal citizens and laying out penalties for discrimination and violence against them…The  Transgender Persons Protection of Rights bill…has the support of all the major political parties [and] is expected to pass easily in Parliament in the coming weeks…The draft law gives…anyone whose gender identity or expression “differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth” the right to identify as a transgender person and enjoy the same rights as other men and women in Pakistan…

Skin To Skin (#313)

This seems to be the same case as in the earlier news item, but it’s worth revisiting:

At 93, Roger’s libido is far from fading.  He might have dementia and live in a nursing home but he has an active sex life, thanks to the care and support of his children, his nursing home professionals and a woman called Emma…who…visits Roger monthly…They laugh together, talk about things that were once important in Roger’s life, they touch each other and they have sex…Emma said the nursing home staff understood the important role sex workers played in the lives of people with dementia.  “They roll out the red carpet for me, because they know the profound nature of this service and what it really means for this client,” she said…

Monsters 

When “diversion” programs are subject to prosecutorial discretion:

In December 2015…a video was posted online featuring a Black woman on the New York City subway arguing with a man and a woman…then lunging at them with an object in her hand.  Days later, Merci Chrisette turned herself in.  There was no record of what sparked the apparent outburst…For the tabloids, it was all a juicy story—and one they were quick to frame about Chrisette’s transgender identity…Nobody…even required medical care as a result of the incident…[but] Chrisette is set to go to trial later this fall for a host of charges related to the incident…Because she has a conviction for a previous felony assault…Chrisette…could face as many as seven years behind bars…Since 2002, people with serious mental illnesses…have been potential candidates for Brooklyn’s Mental Health Court…Chrisette, who has previously been diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia with panic disorder…has not yet been allowed to plead into the court—a reality she and her supporters worry may be influenced by how she’s perceived as a trans woman of color…

Traffic Circle

Criticism of “anti-trafficking” propaganda from inside the “anti-trafficking” ranks:

…progress against human exploitation has been painfully slow, despite the vast investment of political capital, resources and expertise…Few public figures speaking on this issue have resisted the temptation to cite trafficking statistics that are at best unverifiable and at worst demonstrably false.  The anti-trafficking community as a whole has been unconscionably silent about the shoddy research methodologies that regularly produce the wildly varying numbers on which it so heavily relies…Presenting our data as better than it really is smacks of hubris and overreach.  It also risks validating interventions that can only pretend to be evidence-based…

Property of the State (#436)

Texas comes up with some of the sleaziest, most underhanded anti-abortion tricks of any state:

On Tuesday, August 15, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 214…[which] mandates abortion coverage be removed from all private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act insurance plans and sold as a separate — and unprecedentedly specific — policy.  What this means in theory is that people who want to be covered in the event that they need an abortion will have to purchase extra insurance for it.  In practice, it means insurance companies may simply stop covering the procedure altogether, the profitability of an “abortion-only” add-on being questionable at best.  As with many such laws, the…stated purpose is to “prevent those with moral, religious and philosophical objections from having to pay for the procedure”…Governor Abbott…did not say what Texans who want to subsidize abortions via group health plans are supposed to do, or what religious groups with objections to other legal medical procedures should do to avoid funding them…

Broken Record (#534) 

They’re literally recycling “gypsy whore” tall tales now:

…hoards [sic] of people will be in [Las Vegas] for the much anticipated Mayweather- McGreggor bout at the MGM Grand.  Police will also be looking for illegal activity, including prostitution…One person who [prrtends to] know…first hand [sic] is former sex worker Annie Lobert.  She now runs…[Liars] for Jesus and Destiny House, a [rescue industry scam]…How big is the take on fight weekend?  Lobert said, “I would normally make $5 thousand a night, Fight Night $15 thousand, $10 thousand, $20 thousand”.  But what isn’t talked about she says, are the victims; girls and boys sometimes trafficked here from other countries, many lured from Clark County schools, and quite a few underage.  The only event bigger than Fight Night may be The Super Bowl…

The subject of a 14-year-old moral panic in full swing “isn’t talked about”.

Tyranny By Consensus (#608) 

Looks like LA still isn’t done beating this very dead horse:

We are deeply troubled by the vote today by the Board of Supervisors to approve a Measure B permit structure drafted by those without any knowledge of the adult industry, and over the objections of the performers it [claims] to protect…Anyone filming adult content in Los Angeles is now required to pay a $1671 health permit fee, undergo sexual health training, and mandate that performers wear condoms.  Anyone who fails to comply with those strictures faces $1000 fine, and up to six months in jail.  Despite having five years to formulate a plan and work with stakeholders, the Department of Public Health submitted the proposal to the Board of Supervisors just over a month ago, without consulting performers or alerting the industry to the opportunity to provide public comment.  This is not surprising — Dr. Ferrer, the new head of the Department of Public Health, sat after the proceedings with AHF, the controversial organization that put Measure B on the ballot…Dr. Ferrer ignored performers when they attempted to make public comment, and performers were heckled and shouted at by members of the AHF contingent.  One performer was called a whore.  Make no mistake: like Measure B, this vote was done based on bias and ignorance, an attempt by moralists to punish an already stigmatized minority…

Of Course It Is (#674)

I hope she gets every damned penny:

[Celeste Guap]…has filed a lawsuit against one of the [police departments whose cops exploited her]…She…had sexual encounters with four Richmond [cops] in exchange for protection from arrest and tipoffs to prostitution operations…a fifth [cop] fondled her.  Several…face criminal charges…

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There is no thought that a person should be able to have which lands them in jail.  –  Brian Shuster

Surplus Women 

Rolling Stone manages to do an entire article on serial killers who target sex workers without bothering to mention the reason so many do:  the criminalization that forces us to operate in the shadows:

The Killing Season, A&E’s upcoming documentary series about…unsolved murders of prostitutes…starts by looking into the Long Island Serial Killer investigation…but…is not just about LISK…the show…found there are likely many, many more predators who have been able to keep their killings sprees unnoticed.  “These guys aren’t getting away with murder because they are such geniuses,” [filmmaker Rachel] Mills tells Rolling Stone. “They have identified the perfect victims.  They know that those are the types of people that maybe they should go after because they don’t leave as much of a trace as a soccer mom who posts on Facebook”…families of…victims…[have] a hard time convincing law enforcement to take their concerns seriously…

Peeping Toms (#331)

Cops just love their “crackdowns” against queers, but in the current environment of tolerance they’re having to get more creative with their excuses:

Toronto police are helping residents…take back a park that has allegedly been used as a place for sexual activity at all times of the day.  Police said…they have laid 89 charges, mainly bylaw infractions, against 72 people…to clean up Marie Curtis Park…[cops], during their “plain clothes enforcement,” were solicited for sex in the park.  At other times, officers witnessed open sexual activity or men soliciting other men…police [pretend they] are not targeting any one particular group….[but] ninety-five per cent of those charged are men…the community wants the park to be a family friendly place where adults and children can enjoy the outdoors without fear of witnessing sexual acts.  There have also been complaints about litter left behind, including condoms…

Note the close resemblance to typical excuses for “stings” vs sex workers (including public sex and discarded condoms), the similarity of tactics and the typical dehumanizing language such as “take back” and “clean up”.

Above the Law (#405)

Once in a while a rapist cop gets his comeuppance:

A former Lake County [Florida] sheriff’s deputy convicted of [raping] a woman during a traffic stop on New Year’s Day 2014 has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Matthew Donnelly was sentenced [November 8th] and his attorney filed an appeal the same day…

Torture Chamber (#407)

What happens when government stops obsessively prohibiting things and treats prisoners like human beings:

While the UK and much of the world struggles with overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands has the opposite problem.  It is actually short of people to lock up.  In the past few years 19 prisons have closed down and more are slated for closure next year…Fewer than 10% [of Dutch prisoners] return…after their release.  In England and Wales, and in the United States, roughly half of those serving short sentences reoffend within two years, and the figure is often higher for young adults…A decade ago the Netherlands had one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe, but it now claims one of the lowest – 57 people per 100,000 of the population, compared with 148 in England and Wales…police…have shifted their focus away from drugs and…judges often use alternatives to prison such as community service orders, fines and electronic tagging…Angeline van Dijk, director of the prison service in the Netherlands, says jail is increasingly used for those who are too dangerous to release, or for vulnerable offenders who need the help available inside…critics…[pretend there are criminals hiding all over who haven’t been caught] and…many of…van Dijk’s staff are not happy about the lack of people to lock up…

The Public Eye (#449) 

Tyranny By Consensus (#528)

This isn’t the first time Weinstein’s been accused of financial shenanigans:

…The Free Speech Coalition…is taking aim at Weinstein and his nonprofit over…improper political spending.  FSC filed a formal complaint…charging that Weinstein’s spending push related to promoting measures such as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, an anti-development initiative designed to curb building in Los Angeles, has been dubious…[and] constitutes a breach of the Internal Revenue Service’s requirements for an organization to maintain non-profit status, since much of the spending is not directly related to AHF’s own AIDS-related mandate…AHF has…spent in excess of $10 million on local ballot measures and lobbying…[and] almost $20 million on statewide ballot measures…while continuing to receive government grants and not paying taxes on pharmacy sales…[of] over $800 million annually…

Guinea Pigs (#623) 

Palantir is the same company which is helping cops spy on sex workers:

California’s secretive gang database, with information on hundreds of thousands of predominantly black and Latino men, uses a controversial overlay of…data analysis and surveillance technologies…they are being employed by law enforcement without public use policies or privacy safeguards beyond the database’s own rules.  The 19-year-old CalGang database has relied on facial recognition technology at least since the mid-2000s…Yet facial recognition, so imprecise that the Federal Bureau of Investigation accepts an error rate of up to 20 percent, is even more inaccurate when used to identify African Americans…at least one jurisdiction was allowed to employ a powerful dataset-linking program created by Palantir Technologies, a Pentagon contractor, and indicate that the CalGang Executive Board has considered using social media mining software…intelligence [is gathered] from stops by police, such as pulling someone over for a traffic violation or jaywalking.  Any information collected during those stops and uploaded into CalGang, including photos of an individual’s face…people [are] classified as gang-affiliated based on flimsy evidence, record keeping [is] sloppy and gang intelligence [has] been used for employment background checks in violation of federal law and CalGang’s own policies…

Change a Few Words (#625)

It’s good to see more and more doctors attacking the drug war:

Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D. is a long-time advocate…for chronic pain patients…”Over the past 20 years, I have interacted with thousands of pain sufferers…In many of these people, prescription opioids have made the difference between total disablement or death by suicide, versus at least a marginal quality of life and function…During the last two years, I have increasingly heard from patients who are being subjected to a systematic campaign of medication denial and personal stigmatization by the mainstream medical establishment.     Patients who have been successfully and responsibly managed for years on prescription opioids are now being labeled as addicts and denied renewal of medication…Doctors are being driven out of pain management…by an over-zealous witch hunt headed by the…DEA…the most prevalent causes of opioid deaths are street heroin, a flood of imported fentanyl from China and Mexico, and the diversion of stolen or fraudulently obtained prescription opioids…Chronic pain patients did not cause the “overdose epidemic”…a quarter or fewer of overdose victims have a current medical prescription for pain relievers…

Virtual Unreality 

Prudes will turn anything related to sex into a problem:

Realistic sex robots are still a very long ways away — but realistic virtual reality sex has already arrived…we are already hearing about the potential for virtual sexual assault.  Last month, Jordan Belamire shared a now-viral story of getting groped during a multi-player VR video game, which she said “felt real, violating”…[prudes are freaking out about simulated] sexual encounters with [nonexistent electronic images designed to look like] children…[fetishists imagine] VR sex will become so technologically advanced that it is actually preferable to real world sex.  Kathleen Richardson…is…director of The Campaign Against Sex Robots…but she’s also [judgmental] about the nearer-term reality of virtual reality sex.  She believes that things like VR, and sex robots, encourage us to see other humans as property and decrease our empathy…The issue of acting out sexual assault on a purely computer-generated character is…fundamentally not all that unlike the sometimes hysterical worries that have come up with past technological advances — whether it be cybersex in AOL chatrooms, the proliferation of internet porn, or the advent of swipe-based dating…there is no evidence [violent video games] lead to real world criminal behavior…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#635)

It’s interesting to see how much more critical mainstream media in the British Isles can be about anti-porn hysteria:

…a study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin was mentioned as evidence that porn causes changes in consumers’ brains…the researchers actually concluded that they could not prove if the people in their study had this type of brain before their exposure to porn, or if porn was responsible for changing the brain.  To generalise about this small-scale study of 64 Danish men is disingenuous…and the experience of men cannot be said to be exactly the same as the experience of women…It was also stated that there is research to show that women in porn are abused and mistreated, however…there is no large-scale, longitudinal research done with porn performers.  The closest to this was the Griffith study in 2013 which asked 177 female performers about their history of sexual abuse and their levels of self-esteem.  They reported lower levels of childhood sexual abuse and higher rates of self-esteem, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the control group of non-porn performers…a statistic…claimed porn receives 30,000 hits a second –  but…comes from a Christian website that campaigns against porn…YouTube…receives a billion views a day…PornHub received just over 4 billion hits for the whole year.  PornHub also [reports] the average viewing time worldwide is about ten minutes each visit.  We must also ask how much time people spend watching Hollywood films, social media, or Netflix, and what kind of content they are consuming on there…

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The reason it took so long was we kept looking for something we couldn’t find.  –  Joe DiSalvo

Election Day (#45) trump-the-circus-peanut

It was interesting, but not at all surprising, to look back at my comments after the last presidential election and discover that the issues literally haven’t changed at all.  Once again the world was subjected to Americans vomiting poison all over each other for over a year while flushing some two billion dollars down a colossal toilet of hate in a mad contest to convince the undecided that an unbalanced TV clown who has bankrupted more businesses than I’ve owned would be a better Chief Sociopath than a power-mad harpy who never met a non-Anglophone brown person she didn’t want to bomb, and vice versa.  We endured months of propaganda claiming that a word-salad-spewing orang-utan the color of a circus peanut candy could somehow manage the largest corporate complex on Earth even though he couldn’t successfully manage any of his own companies; that a robotic war criminal with the fashion sense of Kim Jong-un and the charisma of your average DMV functionary was somehow less evil than her public behavior would indicate because she has a vagina; and that people so disgusted with these two utterly repellent specimens of homo sapiens that they threw their support behind either a stoner hick with a loose-cannon running mate or a crackpot prohibitionist so deranged even she doesn’t actually know what she believes, somehow owed the Two-Winged Fascist Party their votes lest the madman beat the megalomaniac or vice versa.

Well, we all know how that turned out; Trump won the popularity contest in spite of his own best efforts to sabotage his campaign, which means we may soon be forced to endure the spectacle of a sitting US president defending himself against a slew of lawsuits and even criminal charges.  His cabinet suggestions are a veritable rogues’ gallery of tyrants and malefactors, including the psychopathic Joe Arpaio, who was finally ousted from his position as dictator of Maricopa County, Arizona under the shadow of pending federal criminal charges.

There was some good news, though; California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine legalized recreational cannabis, while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved cannabis for medical use and Montana reversed an attempt by prohibitionist politicians to castrate access to medical cannabis in their state.  Prohibitionists convinced the bootlicking yahoos of Arizona to vote down recreational use, but a fat lot of good it’ll do them with weed being legal now in both California and Colorado.  Given that even the Texas legislature is considering legalization, it seems likely that the federal government will soon give up its evil and hopeless efforts to eradicate usage of the drug by destroying hundreds of thousands of lives.  In fact, it would be a smart move for Trump, one of the most hated men ever to win the Presidency, to reschedule marijuana and thereby basically end the most costly and devastating campaign of the War on Drugs, thus winning brownie points (sorry, y’all) with a large fraction of the people who hate him most while doing absolutely no damage to his reputation with his fanatical followers.

Also, Michael Weinstein’s bizarre one-man crusade to drive the porn industry out of California by allowing any individual to sue the makers of porn movies that don’t include visible condoms (thereby financially destroying the industry) has finally failed at last; while we probably haven’t seen the last of the fanatically-evil Weinstein, it appears that the voters of California aren’t going to give him the power he wants.  And perhaps the defeat of a mindlessly-restrictive prohibitionist law aimed at destroying one segment of the sex industry is a harbinger of flagging support for prohibition of other forms of sex work, just as expanding access to cannabis is a harbinger of failing support for prohibition in general no matter who is in the White House (especially given that despite Trump’s many horrible characteristics, this is the first time we’ve had a former sex worker as First Lady).

Like a Horse and Carriage

Taiwan appears set to become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage…Taiwanese lawmakers are currently working on three bills in support of marriage equality, one of which is already listed for review and could be passed within months.  Same-sex marriage also has the prominent support of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.  About 80 percent of Taiwanese between ages 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage…That’s seen as a reflection of Taiwan’s ready acceptance of multi-party democracy and other inclusive attitudes, as well as the fact that Taiwan’s 23 million people largely follow Buddhism and traditional Chinese religions that take no strong positions on sexual orientation…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#558)

A possible move toward decriminalization in India:

A Supreme Court panel formed to look into the status of sex workers…has recommended that sex work be given legal recognition…Recommendations include that state authorities should issue ration cards to sex workers, that sex workers should be given voter identification cards, and that the children of sex workers should be given admission in government schools…The panel has also recommended that [programs for transition out of sex work] be made a right for those who seek it…The panel has also called for recommendations to amend the existing Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act…[including] changing the definition of brothel…not penalising those living on the earnings of a sex worker…deletion of the section on soliciting…and the doing away of the section on the removal of a prostitute from any place…among others…

Morality Lessons

We’re lucky to have such outstanding moral exemplars to “protect” and “lead” us:

The FBI reportedly ran 23 child pornography websites to try to ensnare users, according to an affidavit from the agency acquired by the…ACLU…It was previously reported that the FBI had seized and maintained the child pornography website Playpen to install malware on its users’ computers…[so as to] gain users’ identities and apprehend them.  But the…FBI had not revealed that it also operated the 23 other child porn websites until the new affidavit…the…websites…were hosted at a government facility…

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-eutt-sharp

I’m pleased to see the actual word “rape” being used for rapist cops more often these days:

An Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputy was arrested for first-degree rape…Eutt Sharp was arrested on [October 29th] after a woman reported she was raped by an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Deputy…

Of course, this probably has a little bit to do with damage control after Daniel Holtzclaw.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#669) 

The defense of choice for sex offenders, plus ADHD:

During a trip to a tanning salon, a Saskatoon woman spotted something in the mirror while applying lotion — something she soon realized was a cellphone…a…police investigation…revealed videos taken of 18 other women, without their consent, while undressing in tanning salons around Saskatoon…Harley Zane Irwin…received a 12-month conditional sentence…after pleading guilty to 19 counts of voyeurism…Dr. Derek Doan, Irwin’s family doctor and psychotherapist, assessed Irwin as having Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  A second doctor diagnosed him as having a sex addiction that resulted from childhood trauma.  Dr. Fred Reekie, a psychologist deemed an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of sex addiction, said Irwin is making strides in his treatment and has shown tremendous growth…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#687) 

Because “I was wrong” isn’t in the cop vocabulary:

James Reed, the Illinois sheriff whose Halloween alert confused Crunch Choco Bars with THC…treats, now admits the error, reporting that…”was positive for containing cannabis.” In a press release issued last week, the Bureau County Sheriff’s Office says “the suspicious candy bars…were found to be imported from Japan, and the design on the wrapper is actually a Japanese Maple Leaf, which [does not in any way] closely resemble…a cannabis leaf”…Instead of apologizing for unnecessarily scaring parents and lending credibilty to the mythical menace of marijuana-infused Halloween candy, Reed offers lame excuses…claim[ing]…”attempts to locate [the candy] on the internet were unsuccessful.”  It is hard to imagine what those attempts entailed, since a Google image search for “Crunch Choco Bars” immediately revealed Reed’s confusion…this incident was a completely bogus scare, a fictional example of a nonexistent phenomenon.  Had Reed’s warning proved accurate, it would have been the first-ever documented case of cannabis candy distributed to trick-or-treaters in the two decades since California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use…

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

Against Their Will

It’s for their own good!

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

The Last Shall Be First

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

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

Pyrrhic Victory

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

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

King of the Hill

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

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

Above the Law (#132)

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

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

Under Every Bed

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

Stupor Bowl

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

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

Bread and Circuses 

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

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

Challenge (#524)

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

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

The Hooker Vote (#530) Hookers for Hillary

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

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

Tyranny By Consensus (#568)

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

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

Challenge (#582)

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

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

Bell, Hook and Kettle (#609)

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

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

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If you want to reduce abuse, you need to find a way to hack the system that increases the power of marginalized people, not of the police.
–  Noah Berlatsky

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

Remember, sex work is legal but “regulated” in India.  Here’s what that looks like:

…police abuse and bad laws live on despite decades of evidence of the harm being done to millions of Indian women…[who] are arrested under charges of “possession of condoms”, or even on false charges of “possession of narcotics”…(They) are rounded up at the end of the month when the target for petty/minor offences are not met…Some [cops] are known…to be self-avowed crusaders against “prostitutes”.  Instead of protecting these women from…criminal elements, the police adds its own violence and abuse to that of other criminals…whether [under] the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986, or the myriad “vagrancy” and “public indecency” acts commonly used against them…[police] “victimise the women,” doubling their “exploitation and extortion”…

It Looks Good On Paper

It’s not “surprising” in the least; as I’ve explained repeatedly, only very rare “perfect victims” are helped by so-called “safe harbor” laws:

…Latesha Clay…was sentenced to prison for up to 20 years…Clay, whose name was inexplicably released by local press despite her status as a minor, had been offered up as bait in a Backpage post advertising sex with the underage girl.  When the clients showed up at a Motel 6…they were met by an adult male, Trayvin Donnell Lewis, who used a realistic-looking airsoft gun to drive the clients to an ATM and rob them…However, Clay herself fits every guideline for qualifying as a trafficking victim just by virtue of being underage and [advertising] online for sex.  According to the Justice Department’s federal definition of sex trafficking, a person under 18 engaging in prostitution (even the mere “offering” of sex for sale) is automatically considered a trafficking victim regardless of whether a pimp or client used “force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or any combination of those means, to cause the minor to engage in a commercial sex act”.  When the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) was signed into law in 2015, many advocates [imagined] the federal government [would] increase protections for underage…teens…in the sex industry…That’s why Clay’s prison sentence, rather than the kind of support and treatment outlined by the JVTA, is surprising…

Tyranny By Consensus 

Los Angeles County and the porn industry are at “a stalemate” over a mandatory condom requirement, according to criminal and constitutional lawyer Paul Cambria Jr…”Measure B”…was approved by L.A. voters in 2012, and has been embroiled in legal challenges ever since…Both a U.S. district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Vivid’s argument that the condom law violates the First Amendment…But…affirmed the lower court’s decision to enjoin several key provisions…including stipulations that noncompliant production companies could have their permits taken away and a provision related to searches and seizures…The state can still go after filmmakers under California’s occupational safety rules, however…the agency’s heart doesn’t seem to be in enforcement…Karen Fuller Tynan…who specializes in adult-industry cases…helped one client settle with the agency for $685—down from an initial attempt to fine the company more than $20,000 for “lack of barrier protection” in a film scene.  She also represented porn company Evil Angel…they went to trial, and half way through the first morning in court the agency dropped all charges related to condoms…

The Public Eye

This interview with retired madam Jami Rodman is overblown & sensationalized, as such interviews tend to be when the interviewed sex worker was connected to some kind of scandal.  But the more the public sees us as real people, the harder it will be to keep the “sex trafficking” lie afloat.

Bottleneck

How Laws Regulating Sex Work Ignore Workers Themselves” is another good example of the stupid, evil laws created by amateurs to “regulate” sex workers, justified under the excuse of “protecting” us from our own choices.  Click to open the image at right, then click again to enlarge.

Checklist

Fellow librarians: this is bullshit.  It is a serious breach of your professional ethics to support the surveillance state against patrons:

…More than 800 staff members at all of San Diego’s 36 library locations recently received training on how to spot sex trafficking victims, how to start a conversation with them, and ultimately how to steer them to the appropriate resources for help…Local law enforcement statistics show an alarming rise in sex…trafficking cases.*  San Diego is one of the top 10 worst cities in America for human trafficking**, and…it is the second most lucrative industry in the region, right behind drug trafficking.^  “It’s a big problem with gangs,” said [library director Misty] Jones. “Gangs are actually trafficking people more so than trafficking drugs now”^^…

*  No, they don’t.   **No, it isn’t.
^ No, it isn’t.        ^^No, they aren’t.

Opting Out

New Zealand bureaucrat imagines he can stop people from seeing online porn he doesn’t like, despite the fact that Australia abandoned a similar censorship scheme as unworkable:

…deputy chief censor Jarred Mullen detailed the harm that [he pretends] increasingly extreme pornography that can cause, and outlined some possible steps towards regulating it.  These steps could include an ISP level ban, where pornography viewers have to “opt in” to viewing pornographic content, similar to that of the United Kingdom’s…Current censorship law…already bans certain types of pornography, including [BDSM & scat]…Censors also look at whether the pornography “degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person,” but this does not necessarily result in a ban.  The censor’s office reviews every DVD released in New Zealand, as well as anything customs seize at the border, but their control over online market is essentially non-existent…

All-Purpose Excuse

in California…an elected official [is] attempting to use the latest law-and-order magic words—”human trafficking“—to push for mandatory decryption on smart phones…Jim Cooper wants to order smartphone manufacturers to be capable of decrypting and providing access to their products on demand…Cooper [bloviated]…”We’re going after…people who are doing bad and evil things.  Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it“…

Moving Pictures 

Yet another ridiculous “sex trafficking” fakumentary:

…Filmmaker Gunther Meisse II teamed up with…Mark Lovely to create a…30-minute documentary on human trafficking, “Shadow in the Heartland”…The pair hope to [sell] the documentary…to schools throughout the state so teachers can show it in…schools where it can be seen by young people who are most vulnerable to human trafficking…In 2013, Ohio ranked fifth among all states for calls to the Nation Human Trafficking Hot Line.  Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims…

Stupor Bowl (#601)

This is the typical “Super Bowl sex trafficking” story now; it debunks the specific gypsy whore myth while still accepting the greater “sex trafficking” myth:

Media briefs screamed into inboxes, blaring in all caps that the Super Bowl is NOT the largest human trafficking event in the world.  But…officials from the D.A.’s office and City Hall took the mic at Boeddeker Park to declare human trafficking an invisible scourge that haunts us 365 days a year…It’s hard to say how what began as an urban legend became the animus for ad campaigns and undercover stings involving everyone from local police departments to the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security…The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women reported that in 2008, 2009, and 2011, local law enforcement observed “no increases in sex work-related arrests” during the Super Bowl…judging by statistics, San Francisco is a hub of the global trade in humans.  The city has the 13th-highest number of child sex trafficking cases in the country…Many victims are shuttled through brothels, massage parlors, and other underground channels, while some are never counted at all…

But because the rescue industry can see the end of the hysteria is coming, it’s really trying to milk this Super Bowl for everything it can get:

…Traffickers from all over the nation and local traffickers already here are believed to gravitate toward the thousands of fans in town for the game.  Lisa Blanchard, executive director of the Grateful Garment Project, believes a sizable number of girls and boys trapped in the sex trade will be arrested or detained, enough to persuade her to organize Sunday’s backpack-stuffing event…”We’re already a hot spot…so when you bring in a big event like the Super Bowl, common sense tells you there will be an increase.”  Her…group assembled two dozen or so volunteers…to fill 165 backpacks with several items, including fleece pants and sweatshirts, underwear, socks, toiletries, flashlights and books — memoirs by people who survived the illicit trade.  Blanchard said the youths would need the clothing and items because they’re dressed “scarcely, almost naked,” when they’re [arrested]…by police…

The idea that “trafficking” fanatics arrive at their beliefs by anything remotely involving common sense is hilarious, but it may not be as funny as this:

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is calling on all Catholics to take a stand against human trafficking.  They want people to fast from social media on February 1…“the…day of Prayer and Awareness coincides well with two major events that cause a spike in human trafficking activity:  the Super Bowl (February 7) and, locally, Mardi Gras (February 9),” the Archdiocese said…Barbarella orgasmatron

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#605) 

You almost have to feel sorry for geeks, wanking to their ludicrous fantasies of a day when they only have to pay once for sex instead of every time.  But really, the idea that computers or highfalutin’ 3D goggles could ever replace actual women is deeply misogynistic at best, and misanthropic at worst:

…The world’s oldest profession is under attack from the newest…VR displays video through screens that strap to your face and create lifelike scenes…[Nevada brothel] Sheri’s Ranch has taken notice of the changes shaking the porn industry and is worried they could be bad for business…Demand for sex might be a constant, but how people go about getting it done has changed.  These days, they’re not paying for it like they used to. In 1948, 69 percent of American men reported having at least one experience with a prostitute, according to a study by The Kinsey Institute.  By the 1990s, that fell to as little as 15 percent…

No, it didn’t.  Honestly, repeatedly refuting this bullshit gets exhausting.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#605)

Contrary to a…report by CNBC, picked up by numerous other media outlets, Penthouse is not shutting down its print magazine.  According to [managing director] Kelly Holland…the magazine is launching a digital edition, [but] that will be a companion to, not a replacement for, its print publication…

Vendetta (#607)

Noah Berlatsky on Swanee Hunt’s HackTrafficking4Good scheme:

…the righteous, adrenalin-fueled approach to battling sex trafficking isn’t likely to help much of anyone.  The statistics on the site are grossly exaggerated and confused.  The claim that hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of sex trafficking is based on what the Washington Post calls “nonsense facts,” and the 12-14 year age of entry is similarly dubious.  In fact, the whole narrative that pimps are systematically kidnapping children and forcing them into sexual slavery doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Most underage people…engage in survival sex because they are fleeing abusive situations at home…not because they are in the thrall of criminal gangs.  The vision of noble hackers helping police to swoop in and save exploited women is dear to the hearts of anti-prostitution groups like conference sponsor Demand Abolition.  But it’s also fanciful—not least because police are in fact one of the chief dangers faced by sex workers…But the HackTrafficking4Good conference doesn’t see law enforcement as a potential threat.  Instead, the conference is focused on helping police with surveillance…

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Government officials…think it’s not easy enough to steal people’s things.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

License to Rape

Why is it so hard for US journalists to use the word “rape” when whores are the victims?

…a South Florida man told a prostitute that he was a police officer and that he would arrest her if she refused to have sex without a condom…22-year-old Mark William Rose was arrested…and charged with impersonating a police officer in the commission of a felony and false imprisonment…Rose told arresting deputies he had previously used the…bluff about a dozen times, with three women conceding to sex…

Get Out of the 19th Century Often?

News reports about prostitution stings in southern states are usually shockingly stupid, and often have not one word about “sex trafficking”:

Over two dozen men were arrested [after falling for]…a cop [decoy].  “We dirtied her up. We told her, you know, you gotta, you can’t be, this is not Pretty Woman,” [pig mouthpiece Joey] Davis [oinked]…Davis explains prostitution is a day job…”a little kid, they don’t need to see that stuff going on”…Some of the women get paid in heroin further spreading disease.  Unknowing wives may become victims.  “Was it worth it?  They didn’t ask for that.  And you don’t know, you might be signing your own death warrant”…

That’s right, kiddies; heroin causes disease!

Tyranny By Consensus

I wonder how much Michael Weinstein has cost the state of California so far?

Adult performers are speaking out against a ballot initiative that mandates condoms in porn throughout the state of California…The measure empowers everyday citizens to sue adult film producers for creating condomless porn—and offers a financial incentive for doing so. Several industry insiders…[say] they worry this would expose them to harassment from stalkers, trolls, disapproving family members and anti-porn activists…

Neither Addiction Nor EpidemicJosh Duggar

Josh Duggar…has “checked himself into a long-term treatment center,” according to a statement  issued…by the Duggar family.  Several media outlets reported that “Josh Duggar is going to rehab for porn addiction“, as if a “porn addiction” were a demonstrably real thing instead of a concept that should be relegated to the scariest of scare quotes.  Duggar’s problems are many but porn addiction is a psychological fiction propped up by the same moralism that Duggar has espoused for years.  By crying “addiction” and going to rehab, Duggar…gets to appear penitent while implicitly sending the pious message that pornography is an evil from which one must be saved…

Above the Law 

Although the term “gay” has now come to include women, I’m honestly not sure what it’s doing in the victim’s description here:

A gay transgender inmate transitioning into a woman was repeatedly raped by a Rikers Island [guard] and jail officials did nothing to stop it, a new suit charges.  The inmate, identified in court papers only as M.T., was assaulted on Dec. 2, 2012 by…L. Galan after months of harassment…Galan gave M.T. gifts like an iPod Touch, headphones, a charger, a case and $20 in cash to not report the abuse…

Bottleneck

commercial sex wasn’t “illegal” in Germany prior to 2002…ProstG removed morality language…”pimping” [laws]…limited legal recognition for contracts…and…ensuring sex worker access to employment benefits…What the 2002 Act failed to do was create federal mandates on zoning, registration, health and safety, and police power.  This left substantial jurisdiction to German states…an estimated 98% of Germany geographically, and over 90% of German towns and cities are restricted areas, and over two-thirds of German residents live in a city where commercial sex is prohibited…Berlin is one of only three german cities without restricted areas.  In other cities, street-based sex work is limited to a few blocks…if not completely forbidden…In Munich, which only allows commercial sex in 3% of the city, sex workers say police regularly stage sting operations to lure sex workers into prohibited zones.  Also unchanged by ProstG…are state police laws, which–even in liberal cities like Berlin–give police the free reign to enter wherever they suspect commercial sex is taking place…including a sex worker’s home…

Uncharted Seas

The title says it all: “All the Bad Arguments Against Polygamy, Debunked“:

Since the marriage equality movement’s recent triumph in the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision, national attention has settled on the status of polygamy, or the legal recognition of marriage between more than two partners.  Several national publications have printed arguments both for and against polygamy rights…Both right and left have taken turns making the case for polygamous marriage, and both right and left have taken turns criticizing the idea…but it’s remarkable just how many bad, sloppy, unconvincing arguments have been marshalled.  Let’s go through and refute them one by one…

My First Million (#437)

I hit the 4 million pageview mark at about 19:30 UTC last Sunday, August 30th.  Thanks to all the readers who made it happen!

4000000

Vendetta (#518)

Let’s hope the moralists all start devouring one another:

A billboard along an exit from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport could give visitors the wrong impression, according to some…travelers.  The billboard…urges men not to buy sex from prostitutes.  “Buy sex [,] lose everything” is the billboard’s message…”We need to remove it, take it down,” said John Rejebian…”I think the public needs to be spared these things”…A logo for CEASE Network is in the lower-right corner of the billboard…

New Excuse (#544)

Elizabeth N. Brown examines the profit motive behind the War on Whores:

…the government’s interest in stopping commercial gay sex is surely more motivated by the commercial aspect here than the man-on-man component.  We’re riding high on a wave of state successes in shutting down prostitution-related businesses…[under] the guise of stopping “human trafficking,” and aided by massive amounts of federal funding plus newly granted wiretapping, asset forfeiture, and other law enforcement powers.  As Scott Shackford pointed out, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) didn’t go after Rentboy.com out of a conviction that gay sex workers pose a threat to national safety but because they could seize $1.4 million from employee bank accounts, along with their homes and other assets.  This is not so much a moral crusade—not for police, prosecutors, or federal agencies anyway—as a money-grubbing one…

Ashley Madison (#557) 

Computer security expert John McAfee on the Ashley Madison “hack”:

Ashley Madison was not hacked – the data was stolen by a woman operating on her own who worked for Avid Life Media…A hacker is someone who uses a combination of high-tech cybertools and social engineering to gain illicit access to someone else’s data.  But this job was done by someone who already had the keys to the Kingdom.  It was an inside job…In my first IBTimes UK article about Act One of the Ashley Madison Affair, I alleged that the group of hackers claiming responsibility for the “hack” simply did not exist.  I gleaned this information from reliable sources within the Dark Web – which have yet to fail me.  I also claimed that it was the act of a single person.  Any adept social engineer would have easily seen this from the wording in the first manifesto published by the alleged hacking group…

I have to wonder if this employee wasn’t the anonymous tipster who provided the material for “Show and Tell“.  I also found this tidbit rather amusing:

The chief executive of…Ashley Madison is resigning…following a hack that revealed millions of user names meant to be kept secret.  Noel Biderman founded the site in 2002 to make it easier for married people to find other married people to have affairs with…Biderman…has sworn that he would never cheat or use the site.  But the hack…uncovered emails suggesting that he was conducting multiple affairs…

What Were You All Waiting For?

The Amnesty International statement is such a big deal, even the 38 “anti-trafficking” groups that make up the “Freedom Network” came out in support of it.  This is not the first time people who adhere to a version of the “trafficking” paradigm have come out for decriminalization; the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is the most important one, and Kate D’Adamo (first listed author of the statement) is well-known as an opponent of criminalization.  But the fact that a number of organizations who fly the “trafficking” flag are willing to break ranks with the others is a powerful sign of the beginning of the end of the hysteria.

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The [Satanic] panic…was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game.  –  Radley Balko

The Biggest Whores

An Australian lawyer chides prohibitionist peers:

…If lawyers picked and chose…their clients…based on morality, then those individuals who fall on the wayside of public opinion would be completely without assistance…I was essentially being called morally bankrupt by two men who have acted for some of the most notorious criminals this state has come across.  They have also acted on behalf of alleged criminals who have been found not guilty.  If these men had subjected their clients to the same moral rigour as they have with sex workers, those clients may not have had the benefit of their legal services to begin with, and may have subsequently found erroneously guilty…when lawyers cast…moral aspersions on parts of society, something we are specifically trained not to do in ethics class, that does not leave much hope for the minority that are subject to those aspersions…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

The inevitable result of criminalization:

…Tucson [cop]…Shane Barrett said the department first received complaints about [an alleged brothel]…on Nov. 29, 2011.  The Pima County Attorney’s Office used Barrett’s affidavit as the basis for trying to seize $15,000 and a long list of property from the accused operators…Clarissa Lopez and Ulises Ruiz…[cops] finally obtained and served search warrants on Ruiz and Lopez’s home and their places of business…three years and two months after the initial reports…TPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation alongside the criminal investigation…It’s unclear whether the implicated officers are thought to be customers of the brothel or involved in some other way…

Held Together With Lies

Prohibitionists make up a bunch of big numbers, then multiply them to get an even bigger fake number.  SCIENCE!

…Prostitution in France brings in an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, a new study funded by the European Commission has found…France’s nearly 40,000 prostitutes…bring in an average gross total of €87,700 a year – much of which is sent abroad.  The authors of the report, who are campaigning for the abolition of prostitution, say that there is a serious tax evasion on these earning that totals €853 million a year.  They added that the total “cost” on society was €1.6 billion…The profession also proves costly for indirect social consequences, the study noted, such as imprisonment for pimping, health expenses, and addictions.  Maîtresse Gilda, spokeswoman from the French sex-workers union Strass said the figures in the study were “delusional”…

The idea that sex workers are to blame for the costs of criminalizing us is the exact moral equivalent of a bully who hits another child with his own hand while mocking, “Stop hitting yourself!”

First They Came for the Hookers…

“Sex trafficking” fetishists target strip clubs because they’re much more easily located than online escorts:

…OneHeart Ministry in Dayton…is…helping women who work at strip clubs who are at risk of being trafficked or are being trafficked…children ages 10 to 12 are being targeted for prostitution…“If you see something, say something,” she said…

Yes, these fanatics are un-ironically using one of the police state’s more notorious slogans.no trafficking shelter here

Gingerbread House

It’s satisfying when the mask of concern for “trafficking victims” slips:

Controversy continues to grow over the proposed safe house for male victims of sex trafficking in [North Carolina]…The group against the safe house said their major complaints were that no one told them it was going right behind their houses, and the fact the boys living there could run away and cause damage to their property. However, they remain adamant that they have nothing against the boys or mission…

NIMBY at its finest and most literal.

Checklist

It’s hard to imagine an article with a lower opinion of female intelligence and agency than this one:

…a…Florida…bill…requires public-awareness signs be placed at rest areas, turnpike service plazas, some emergency rooms, weigh stations, strip clubs and bodyworks businesses not operated by health-care professionals.  The signs will outline how to identify a human trafficking victim along with the phone number of the awareness center.  Signs could also be placed in restroom stalls, allowing victims to self-identify during a rare moment of privacy…a…second bill attacks the root cause of much human trafficking…without the demand by so-called johns, the pimps would be out of business.  To that end, the bill targets first-time offenders with a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and completion of [“john school”]…That should serve as a stronger deterrent than current penalties…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312)

Prostitution activities maybe [sic] permitted in several areas [in Jakarta, Indonesia] in an effort to control illegal prostitutions [sic] in rented rooms and apartments…In addition, allowing prostitutions in specific places was said to enable a check on activities to offer sex by underaged girls…Indonesia Ulama Council’s general head’s representative Ma’ruf Amin…[said] the proposal…deviated from Islamic teaching…

Theatrics 

But hey, they weren’t selling sex, so there’s no need for a crusade or anything:

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling has highlighted the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers in a case where two women worked in what the tribunal called a “sexually poisoned work environment.”  The women had their work permits revoked and were sent back to Mexico after resisting the sexual overtures of their employer at Presteve Foods…One woman was forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home and both were sexually harassed in other ways…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of nice to see sex workers described as depraved temptresses rather than helpless victims:

…more terms [have emerged for an] escort [such as]…PSP — or personal service provider…prostitution is utilizing the power of the Internet to lure those who patronize it…The underground flesh trade has become more wired and clandestine…Ashley…moonlights as a PSP to support her obsession with material possessions…mostly…gadgets and signature dresses…she does this to…mask what was really behind her personality…the person she is…too ashamed for others to see…according to psychologist Dr. Estrella Tiongson-Magno, women dabble into prostitution because it is easy money…some men buy sex as a way to escape problems or uncomfortable emotions…however…since the pleasure is not lasting, men have to do it over and over again…Ronald Aguto…of the Cybercrime Division of NBI, said that self-advertised prostitution is rampant online…

Tyranny By Consensus (#346)

I’ll bet you thought opponents of condoms in porn were exaggerating:

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a set of safety standards for all California porn production sets.  The 21-page standards presentation…goes into graphic detail about the safety precautions that are to be undertaken when adult video actors perform various acts.  Here’s one eye-opening detail from the document:  “the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with OPIM-STI is reasonably anticipated, eye protection.  Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it prevents blood or OPIM—STI* from passing through to or reaching the employee’s eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes“…“OPIM—STI” means pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions…or…any other bodily fluid…in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids…

Yes, that means goggles.

Absolute Corruption (#449)

Radley Balko uses the case of Fran & Dan Keller to discuss the Satanic Panic in general:

…”[Texas’] highest criminal court…threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic [sic] cults were abusing day care children nationwide.  The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison…The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim”…dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated.  Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent:  “This was a witch hunt from the beginning.  The allegations…were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who…was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues“…That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom…One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie Witch Hunt, which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic…

Bottleneck (#508)

Prohibitionists never understand how ridiculous they sound to normal people:

Edmonton should stop licensing body rub centres and crack down on their customers instead…four speakers argued…Kylee Nixon from the Friends and Families of McCauley Society called on the city to reduce demand for these services by focusing on johns.  This should include forcing customers to provide their names at the centres and arresting them when they break prostitution laws, she said…

Traffic Circle (#532)

The Washington Post continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…many…lawmakers [have] repeatedly cited the statistic that “300,000” children were “at risk” of being sexually exploited.  Often, the source of the statistic was claimed to be the Justice Department…But it turns out that this is another one of those nonsense statistics, based on data so old that the original researcher even says it is no longer relevant.  It also does not have the imprimatur of the Justice Department. In recent months, The Fact Checker has exposed a series of dubious factoids, each of which are endlessly repeated by politicians and, even more irresponsibly, by the media…In 2008, Michelle Stranksy and David Finkelhor of the respected Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire wrote a report explaining the problems with the Estes/Weiner estimate, as well as other claims about the extent of the juvenile prostitution.  “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS,” the report pleaded…how did such an out-of-date guesstimate get touted as a current “Justice Department” figure?…in 2010, the Office of Justice Programs published an article in its Juvenile Justice Bulletin that cited the Estes/Weiner estimate…But the bulletin makes clear that this is only an opinion article and it does not express the official position of the Justice Department.  A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that…“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”…[politicians] should be ashamed of citing a figure that is so out of date and discredited…All lawmakers should stop using it and post prominent corrections of their statements on their Web sites…

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