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Posts Tagged ‘Under Duress’

Removing all references to sex trafficking will hurt our ability to grab reporters’ attention.  –  Sydney Asbury of “Demand Abolition”

The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn 

It’s been a long time since I’ve used this heading, but an even longer time since we’ve seen anything like this:

…lifelong civil rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide…to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia…and…He’s doing something I’ve never quite seen before in present-day politics…keeping his word…In his first week on the job, he fired 31 prosecutors…because they weren’t committed to the changes he intended to make…Next, Krasner…release[d] a list of 29 [bad cops]…that…had lied…filed false reports, used excessive force, driven drunk, and burgled…but nothing is as essential and revolutionary as the internal five-page guiding document of new policies that Krasner sent to his staff…The first sentence says it all:  “These policies are an effort to end mass incarcerations and bring balance back to sentencing”…Krasner immediately instructs prosecutors to stop prosecuting marijuana possession regardless of the weight…[and] to stop charging …with any paraphernalia crimes…to stop charging sex workers that have fewer than three convictions with any crime and drop all current cases against sex workers who also fit that description.  All sex workers with three or more convictions are to be referred to Dawn Court…a…diversion…program created in 2010…Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop the wide-ranging practice of beginning plea deals with the highest possible sentencing and instead, begin those plea deals at the bottom end of the available range…Krasner instructed his prosecutors to now add up and justify the exact costs of every single person sentenced to a crime in Philadelphia…Stating that it costs between $42,000 and $60,000 per year to incarcerate a person, he reminded the prosecutors that the…annual cost of incarceration…is…more per year than the beginning salary of teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers, addiction counselors, and even prosecutors in his office…

Pyrrhic Victory

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

In at least four investigations last year…Raleigh [North Carolina] police used search warrants to demand Google accounts not of specific suspects, but from any mobile devices that veered too close to the scene of a crime…These warrants often prevent the technology giant for months from disclosing information about the searches not just to potential suspects, but to any users swept up in the search…[“authorities” pretend] the practice is a natural evolution of criminal investigative techniques.  They [lie] that, by seeking search warrants, they’re carefully balancing civil rights with public safety [because most of the public is too stupid to know about the horrible “third-party doctrine”].  Defense attorneys and privacy advocates…are…[concerned about] how law enforcement turns to Google’s massive cache of user data, especially without a clear target in mind.  And they’re concerned about the potential to snag innocent users, many of whom might not know just how closely the company tracks their every move…

Under Duress 

The New York Times finally discovers what marginalized people have always known:

An investigation by The New York Times has found that on more than 25 occasions since January 2015, judges or prosecutors determined that a key aspect of a New York City [cop’s] testimony was…untrue…[they lie] about the whereabouts of guns…They…barge…into apartments and conduct…searches, only to testify otherwise later… they…give…firsthand accounts of crimes or arrests that they did not in fact witness…No detail, seemingly, is too minor to embellish…In many instances, the motive for lying was…to skirt constitutional restrictions against unreasonable searches and stops.  In other cases, the falsehoods appear aimed at convicting people…with trumped-up evidence…

Bogeymen

Read this ludicrous exercise in pearl-clutching, then the item under the same heading two items down:

…illicit prostitution businesses are thriving in a surprising place: the legitimate corporate world.  And, we’ve found that the inequities of that world…contribute to that sex trade…we interviewed 44 pimps…in Chicago…fewer than half…fit the pop culture stereotype of a pimp.  The other half did not: a full third had four-year college degrees, primarily in business administration…and most…were white.  In addition to their pimping work, nearly half worked in legitimate companies, not in massage parlors or erotica businesses…these illegal businesses grew directly from the misogynistic culture of the legitimate ones that housed them.  Some became pimps after learning of demand for paid sex through informal bantering about sexual conquests over lunch or beers with the bros.  Half of the pimps started out as customers of sex workers, and several arranged “entertainment” for business clients as part of their job…

Huffington Post needs to exercise more diligence on its contributors; these two fantasists [44 interviews of self-proclaimed “pimps” in one city is not anything like a representative sample] have been recycling this same bogeyman tale on the strength of their supposed academic credentials for years.

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere! (#314)

The only sex workers exploited in New Zealand are those who were intentionally excluded from decriminalization in order to appease prohibitionists:

Migrant prostitutes working illegally on temporary visas are “terrified” they will be deported if they report exploitative pimps and abusive clients…In the past year, 136 migrants suspected of coming here to carry out sex work were denied entry into New Zealand…Sex work is the only occupation migrants on temporary visas are not legally allowed to take up…However, migrants who have entered the country on temporary work, visitor, holiday or international student visas and work as prostitutes are being forced to carry out sexual acts without protection and often work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week…They would not speak to police because they would be deported…

Bogeymen (#317)

I’m glad to see Bruckert has expanded her study into a book:

“The sex industry, like mainstream businesses, rarely depends exclusively on clients and workers to operate efficiently and safely,” professor Chris Bruckert [said]…”Contrary to prevailing stereotypes that portray third parties [like pimps] as inherently abusive and controlling, these workers fulfill important roles and provide vital services.”  Bruckert and her team of researchers conducted interviews with 75 pimps — or “third-party” workers, as she prefers to call them — as well as 52 sex workers for her new book Getting Past ‘the Pimp’: Management in the Sex Industry…Bruckert said little research has been conducted on the role of pimps in the industry, adding that many people’s opinions are based on stereotypes…Most of the third-party workers Bruckert’s team spoke to were women — both surprising and understandable, she said, since the industry is female-dominated and the line between sex work and management is thin…

Torture Chamber

The PREA is just feel-good nonsense as long as screws have absolute power over their victims:

…the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)…frequently fails to either address or eliminate sexual abuse.  In jails and prisons across the country, incarcerated people are subject to sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff.  If they report these assaults, they risk retaliation, including greater violence…”Prisons are the worst distillation of toxic masculinity,” said Alan Mills [of the Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC)]…”It’s all about inflicting punishment on people.  It’s about the use of force in order to force compliance to an arbitrary set of rules.  It’s about dehumanizing people.  It’s not surprising that this translates to harassment and abuse”…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex workers in South Africa will be arrested at least four times and will spend an average of 40 hours in custody if they are charged…one third of sex worker arrests never make it to a police station or courthouse‚ instead often ending in sex workers being abused by police or forced to pay bribes.  These were just some of the findings of The Policing of Sex Work In South Africa survey compiled by NGO’s Sonke Gender Justice and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)…Advocacy officer at Sonke Donna Evans said that the most shocking thing to emerge from the report was the extreme levels of violence at the hands of police that were reported by sex workers.  “They were extremely disturbing and included incidents of torture‚ assault‚ rape and even permanent disability‚” Evans said…

Original Sin (#762) 

I guess this makes sense coming from a man who imagines condoms to be weapons of mass destruction:

Pope Francis asked forgiveness…for all Christians who buy sex from women, saying men who frequent prostitutes are criminals with a “sick mentality” who think that women exist to be exploited.  “This isn’t making love.  This is torturing a woman.  Let’s not confuse the terms,” Francis insisted…

The Puritan Recrudescence (#795)

At least Wyoming had the sense to vote this nonsense down:

A Wyoming bill that would have recognized porn as a “public health crisis” failed in the 2018 session of the state Legislature…HJ1 was typical of various “public health crisis” bills that have made their way across the nation.  Wyoming’s bill, introduced by…Lars O. Lone, would have made official language stating porn increases the demand for sex trafficking, impacts brain development and functioning, diminishes the interest of young men in getting married and creates infidelity, among other [evidence-free] statements.  Another porn bill…sponsored by Lone, failed to win support, as well.  HB 127 would have ordered the installation of porn blocking software on all computers sold in the state to prevent the viewing of “obscene” material as defined by the state Attorney General’s office…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#811) 

SAVE THE TOASTERS!!!!

French activists are campaigning to shut down a new “sex doll brothel” on the grounds that it degrades women—and silicone.  Or something…Xdolls is registered as a gaming center, which makes sense if you consider doll-sex a form of escapist make-believe or wish-fullfilment akin to playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  But Paris Council communists and other activists argue that Xdolls amounts to a brothel, which are illegal in France.  Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, head of the Paris council’s communist group…compared the business to “prostitution” and the owner to “a pimp.”  Sounds like someone just started watching Westworld.  The rhetoric only gets more extreme from there.  Lorraine Questiaux, spokesperson for the anti-sex work organization Mouvement du Nid…[said] “It’s a place…where you rape a woman”…You can’t rape a non-sentient silicone doll any more than you can rape a vibrator or a Fleshlight…but apparently not even lifeless dolls are immune to…rescue attempts…

I’m so glad Tracy Clark-Flory is writing again; I’ve missed her good sense.

Disaster

The fallout will continue until there’s some legal action against this horrific law:

…SESTA’s passage by the U.S. Senate has had an immediate chilling effect on those working in the adult industry…stories of a fallout are being heard, with adult performers finding their content being flagged and blocked…escort site [Cityvibe]…suddenly becoming “not available,” Craigslist shutting down its “personals” sections and Reddit closing down some of its communities, among other tales.  SESTA…targets scores of adult sites that consensual sex workers use to advertise their work.  And now, before SESTA reaches President Trump’s desk for his guaranteed signature, those sites are scrambling to prevent themselves from being charged under sex trafficking laws.  “It’s not surprising that we’re seeing an immediate chilling effect on protected speech,” industry attorney Lawrence Walters [said]…”This was predicted as the likely impact of the bill, as online intermediaries over-censor content in the attempt to mitigate their own risks.  The damage to the First Amendment appears palpable”…

Too Close To Home (#823)

It’s great to see a spotlight on this ugly scheme to sell human lives to a sociopathic billionaire:

There is no mention in [propaganda about Seattle’s high-profile sex work stings] of the fact that [prosecutor Val] Richey’s work was handsomely supported by Demand Abolition, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to end demand for sex work by going after buyers, or that the cost of some of his travels around the country has been defrayed by the same group.  Nor is there any mention of the fact that Demand Abolition, in exchange for providing approximately $191,667 in funding to the King County prosecutor’s office over four years, asked Seattle-area law enforcement to carry out regular arrests and prosecutions of buyers…As part of signed agreements for the funding, Richey and other law enforcement officials in King County were required to frame the activities of sex buyers and men involved with The Review Board as sex trafficking…even though there was no evidence of trafficking…and…none of the men arrested…were charged with trafficking — only with promoting prostitution…

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Nothing about jackbooted cops storming into your room can be pleasant.  –  Tyler Dawson

Under Duress 

I find it mind-boggling that most people are surprised to find out that cops are habitual liars:

A…jury…convicted [an NYPD] detective of lying under oath in a trial that raised troubling questions about the prevalence of false statements by police officers in routine cases…Kevin Desormeau…concocted a story about witnessing a man deal drugs to two women on a street corner on a summer evening in 2014…Desormeau [testiled that he] intercepted the man after the transactions and arrested him…But videotape from security cameras showed that the man had been playing pool inside a nearby Caribbean restaurant at the time he was said to have been selling drugs outside…Desormeau and his partner…Sasha Neve, still face charges related to false statements in Manhattan in a separate case…Neve…was found guilty [in the current case] of official misconduct…But the judge…immediately struck down her conviction, [pretending] there was insufficient evidence…As both…left the courtroom, other [pigs] from their old [sty], the Queens gang squad, patted their backs in support…one…was overheard [oinking that] the case as a “witch hunt”…

Torture Chamber 

Stop faking!

An inmate in the Ascension Parish Prison has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Jeff Wiley and his office over the teenager’s rape while in custody early last year.  Jacob Westbrook…[reports that] sheriff’s deputies [refused] to obey a judicial order to keep him in protective custody, and instead exposed him to “the very substantial risk of serious harm” from his alleged attackers…Westbrook had “sexual batteries” and “rapes” committed against him on two consecutive days in January 2017 by two 17-year-olds.  Westbrook was also 17 years old at the time.  “During each violent attack, plaintiff screamed for help and from the pain.  No deputies came to his aid…jail personnel failed to follow supervision of detainee policies and procedures and there was no video monitoring of this area of the jail,” the lawsuit alleges…

Whither Canada?

To their credit, the Young Liberals have been pushing for repeal of Canada’s version of the Swedish model since the law first passed:

…the Young Liberals of Canada…[are] pushing the rest of their federal party to discuss decriminalization of prostitution at the party’s convention in April…Since they were elected, the Liberals have claimed they’re reviewing Conservative-era legislation that reworked Canada’s sex work laws following the Supreme Court’s Bedford decision in 2013…[but] little has happened since…the present law…is poor public policy, is disrespectful to the top court’s judgment and – completely separate of either of these very good reasons to object to it – insulting to those who work in the sex industry and can make their own choices about what they do with their bodies and how they make money…

Juxtaposition (#422)

Before you decry this as symptomatic of totalitarianism, click the title link to see who else has arrested people for dancing near public monuments:

Five Britons are among a group of 10 foreigners arrested in Cambodia for “singing and dancing pornographically”, after a raid on a party in Siem Reap near the tourist destination of Angkor Wat.  They face up to a year in prison and could spend six months in detention before the case goes to court…one of the group…said they did not understand why they were being held, adding that they saw one of the arrested men vomiting in shock…

Wise Investment (#428)

Those who cannot remember the past, etc:

Advocates for sex workers are demanding Laval [Quebec] reverse its decision to push all massage parlours, strip clubs, and other erotic businesses to a small, industrial stretch of the city.  The new rules…further stigmatize and endanger the women involved in the sex industry, according to Sandra Wesley, the executive director of Stella, a Montreal-based support group for sex workers…[which] is demanding the city withdraw its new rules, or at least postpone their enforcement, so the women affected can have time to challenge them.  But according to the city, the rules are here to stay…that doesn’t mean sex workers will change jobs; it just forces them out of public view and into situations where they have to work from home or in unsafe areas…

Pyrrhic Victory (#609)

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, according to a contract finalized earlier this month.  The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking…the data [comes] from Vigilant Solutions, the leading network for license plate recognition data…Vigilant…has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups.  Vigilant also partners with local law enforcement agencies…collecting even more data from camera-equipped police cars.  The result is a massive vehicle-tracking network generating as many as 100 million sightings per month, each tagged with a date, time, and GPS coordinates of the sighting…

Droit du Seigneur (#614)

Given that Spitzer was a heavy prohibitionist while in office, outing him is justified:

A Manhattan judge has lifted the gag order placed on the ​former ​escort who [says]…Eliot Spitzer threatened to kill her, meaning she can now dish on the fallen pol’s sexual fetishes​ ​— ​which allegedly include being paraded around on a leash like a dog.  Judge Gilbert Hong issued an order…saying Svetlana Travis Zakharova is no longer subject to another judge’s February 2017 direction she couldn’t talk about her relationship with Spitzer while she was being prosecuted for extorting $400,000 from him…Hong also ruled that the NYPD has 30 days to return the former escort’s cell phone and iPad, which were seized when she was arrested in the extortion case…She’s since released recordings in which a man she alleges is the infamous pol threatens to kill her.  “You fuck​ing bitch!  You piece of shi​t.  And then you fuck​ing destroyed my life!” the man in the records can be heard saying.  “You know what’s going to happen to you?  You’re going to be fuck​ing dead.”  [Zakharova’s lawyer] says that as soon as Zakharova returns from Russia — where she’s gathering more recordings — she’s coming for Spitzer…

To Molest and Rape 

A “correctional officer” in a “correctional institution”.  Makes you wonder what “authorities” perceive as “correct”:

In the early months of 2017, a correctional officer at a jail near the Tennessee-Alabama border routinely cornered a female inmate in the jail library, raping and eventually impregnating her before the assaults were discovered…Caleb Shane Hopkins…[has confessed to repeatedly raping] Jessica Fowler…Once other jail officials learned Fowler was pregnant, she was transferred to the Tennessee Prison for Women before giving birth, prematurely, in December.  She remains imprisoned, unable to have any prolonged access to her child…[who] is currently with [her] parents…[she] is suing Hopkins for $1 million and Moore County for $300,000.  However, there are no federal limits for damages in a case like this, so a judge could award a higher amount…

I hope she bankrupts both the rapist pig and the county.

Opting Out (#759)

Naturally, Cassandra McNeill was warning about this years ago:

MindGeek, the biggest internet pornography company in the world…[pretends] it will not snoop on the sexual preferences of 25 million people in the UK under new age verification laws.  However, MindGeek also [admits it] plans to collect a trove of information on users, including their names, addresses, date of birth, as well as their online activities on other websites.  From April, as part of the Digital Economy Act, anyone wishing to view pornography online will have to prove they are over 18 years old…Among the companies developing solutions is MindGeek, which…also runs some of the most viewed pornography sites in the world, including PornHub…its age verification system, AgeID…will require users to sign up with an email address and password, then use a third party mechanism to prove they’re over 18.  User will then use AgeID to access pornographic sites around the web; AgeID will log which sites are visited…

Stupor Bowl (#769) 

It’s a good sign that headlines like this are now fairly common:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement joined in the pre-Super Bowl hype…[about] a…human trafficking spike that experts…agree doesn’t exist…The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a coalition of NGOs, wrote in 2014 that public figures often use this sort of hype to justify their own interests, whether it’s anti-immigration sentiment or support and funding for [police violence against sex workers]…

Stalkers in Blue

Oh, honey, I hope you don’t really believe this doesn’t happen in Florida:

An NYPD [cop] offered to let a Brooklyn woman slide on a pot possession bust if she lifted her shirt and showed him her breasts…Jasmine Campbell…was arrested for possession of marijuana and resisting arrest — but…not before…Javier Munoz mistreated her…Campbell, 25, spent the night in jail before she was released without bail and the ordeal caused her to miss a college midterm in her senior year.  She said she was not able to take a makeup exam, and got a lower grade in the class…Campbell said her friend insisted to cops that the weed was his, but they cuffed and processed her, anyway…Campbell said she has since been pulled over by other officers who have been sexually inappropriate.  “It’s a constant thing going on in New York with the cops that they’re just using their badges to, I guess, sexually harass women…That’s why I’m so glad to be going to law school in Florida.  I don’t even want to live here anymore”…

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I thought, how nice for him…to take care of my little girl.  –  Nancy Wells

Bad Girls 

Really, guys, just hire actual pros; it’s much cheaper in the long run:

An FBI counterterrorism supervisor had his gun and pricey watch stolen by an “exotic dancer” after a boozy night at a North Carolina hotel…Robert Manson…awoke the next day to find she’d swiped his Glock .40-caliber handgun, Rolex and about $60 in cash…Last month, a woman stole a $37,000 watch from a man she’d just met at a swanky eatery.  Over the summer, two women stole $80,000 worth of timepieces from several saps who invited them back to their luxury hotel rooms…two women [stole] an elderly…man[‘s]…watch and $3,000 in cash after meeting him at a cigar bar…in August, a Saudi diplomat was robbed of a $30,000 Gerald Genta-designed watch, a $12,000 Rolex and $2,500 in cash after hooking up with a woman he met at celebrity hot spot 1Oak…

The Punitive Mindset 

One would think defense attorneys of all people would have more sense than to imagine the purpose of cops is to “protect” anybody:

A half-dozen employees of the Cook County Public Defender’s office have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, claiming county officials have done nothing to protect them from inmates who masturbate in front of them during visits to the jail and courtroom holding cells…Public Defender Amy Campanelli’s deputy, Lester Finkle, said in a statement that the office had been working with…sheriff [Tom Dart] and judges to come up with a solution for two years…Campanelli has said she wants extra [cops] on hand in courtroom lockups, a solution Dart has said costs him $40,000 per week in overtime.  Dart, also named in the lawsuit, [wants to lock the prisoners up for even longer instead]…

Arch-sleazebag Tom Dart, whom you may remember as Swanee Hunt’s crony, is intentionally perpetuating a situation which will make it harder to people in his filthy cages to get legal representation, while simultaneously calling for worsening the conditions that are causing the problem.  Anybody else smell a rat?

Under Duress

Even on the rare occasion when cops want to tell the truth, their superiors may force them to lie:

Massachusetts State Trooper Ryan Sceviour is suing his superiors…[after] they ordered him to alter a police report involving the daughter of a judge in a DUI and drug incident.  The state police are…arguing the order to change the report was appropriate.  Sceviour arrived at the scene of a crash Oct. 16…Behind the wheel he…found Alli Bibaud, daughter of [drug court judge] Timothy Bibaud…reeking of alcohol with a “heroin kit” in the car…Bibaud told him she had traded sex for drugs and…offered to have sex with Sceviour for more lenient treatment…two days later [Sceviour]…was ordered to alter his police report….[and] reprimanded for including Bibaud’s statements in his report…It’s not hard to imagine how neglecting to report an offer of sex for leniency could backfire [on a cop].  More importantly, the lack of any effort to ensure that “sensationalistic and inflammatory” statements by other suspects don’t appear in police reports suggests the state police was more interested in protecting Bibaud’s father than the privacy of all people arrested by state police…

Buried Truth 

Man who pontificates about “Christian morality” and thinks homosexuality should be a crime has a thing for underage girls.  Gee, what a surprise:

Leigh Corfman…was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala…It was early 1979 and [Roy] Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.  He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing…Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number…days later…he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her.  On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes.  He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear…Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.  Two of Corfman’s childhood friends say she told them at the time that she was seeing an older man, and one says Corfman identified the man as Moore…three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s…None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of…sexual contact…

Drawing Lines 

Nope, this isn’t sex work, no sirree:

You want your lonely child to, say, have a “father”.  Or maybe you just want to go out on some dates with someone nice, someone safe…you want someone to care, or at least act like they do.  You think it would be easier — cleaner — to pay someone than to…find someone [to perform that emotional labor for free]…So, you go online and hire someone like Ishii Yuichi, owner of Family Romance in Japan, to play that role…The Atlantic interviewed Yuichi who shares what it’s like to be that for-hire “loved one”…

A Moral Cancer (#566)

The crypto-moralists have been relatively quiet for a while:

…the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)…estimat[es] “3.5 percent of all cancer deaths are attributable to drinking alcohol” in the United States…In comparison, smoking tobacco is estimated to cause 32 percent of all cancer deaths…The group treats consuming alcohol as a pure public health problem to which the only solutions are various forms of prohibition.  They recommend regulating alcohol outlet density; increasing alcohol taxes and prices; maintaining limits on days and hours of sale…and resisting further privatization of retail alcohol sales in communities with current government control…

The Public Morals

Though I’m always happy to see cops imprisoned, it’s disturbing that this guy faces a longer sentence for texting than others face for rape, mayhem and murder:

Basil O’Kimosh, a [Menominee Tribal] cop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, faces federal charges for exchanging sexually explicit Snapchat messages with a teenage girl he met on Facebook.  If convicted…he…faces 25 years to life in prison…While it’s refreshing to see a cop get held accountable for a change, calling O’Kimosh a threat to community safety seems a bit melodramatic.  No adult…should be sexting with a teenager…but considering the kinds of things that cops in this country frequently get away with—murder, sexual assault, physical abuse, actual sex with minors—the severe concern in this case rings…a bit hollow.  The feds didn’t step in, for instance, when dozens of cops were under investigation for sexting and having sex with an underage girl in Oakland, California.  Or when a Chicago cop was arrested for trafficking a 14-year-old.  Or in the recent case of a Bronx officer arrested for paying to make sex tapes with a minor…but U.S. prosecutors have been big lately on exercising jurisdiction over both social media and sexting, and…this helps suggest the decision to make this a federal matter is based more on opportunism and political agendas than the severity of O’Kimosh’s crime or his threat to the public…

The Eye of the Beholder (#672)

Given that there is no possibility of a child, what exactly is the rationale behind destroying two lives, other than “The ‘authorities’ find this skeevy” or “The law is the law”?

A[n Oklahoma] woman who married her biological mother last year received a 10-year deferred sentence [plus two years of probation] after pleading guilty…to committing incest…Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 26, was set for a bench trial…but instead pleaded guilty to illegally marrying 44-year-old Patricia Ann Spann, who is identified as Patricia Ann Clayton on their marriage license application…Patricia Span also was once married to her biological son…[she] is also charged with incest [and] is to appear in court in January…

The Sky is Falling! (#779) 

Young women using their natural gifts to graduate without debt is “disgusting”; giving free sex to boorish, penniless young men is “feminism”:

A shameless dating site is encouraging young female students to date older rich “sugar daddies” so they can pay off their student loan…s and earn them some extra pocket money and life experience…A total of five [miniature mobile] billboards are doing a tour of universities in an aim to get 100,000 British students to sign up by the end of the year…A…student, who asked not be named, said: “It’s disgusting. It should be illegal for these perverts to pray [sic] on youngsters like this [because we’re the emotional equivalent of toddlers and have no agency]…me and my friends would never turn to prostitution…it’s exploitative and wrong”…

Soap Opera (#788) 

Reading cops’ masturbatory fantasies of omnipresent “pimps” with magic powers is by turns hilarious and disgusting:

…[Wanking pig Curt Chastain fantasized] “I’ve had (sex trafficking) victims from every high school in Fresno County – and most junior high schools”…Arresting [consenting adults]…is…part of [the fantasy Chastain uses when doing what he calls]…choking…the…snake…“I’d bet every 16-year-old girl in Fresno has received a message that they didn’t know was from a recruiter…They’re recruited while sitting next to their parents in the living room”…As he drives from place to place during the undercover operation, the detective shares his [masturbatory fantasies about] the modern sex trade…

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Whorephobia…can manifest in various forms, including…rejection of a fellow…human being…projection of one’s own life experiences onto another…and in severe cases, frothing at the mouth…and feverishly campaigning for extreme punishment and prohibition of Whores and Whore-adjacent peoples, places, and objects.  –  Aspasia Bonasera

No Other Option

Another good article about sex work with disabled clients, this one a first-person account from reader Laura Lee.  Due to the movie The Sessions this has become a very “hot” topic, which is good because it deals a strong blow to the “victimized prostitute” narrative.  For more on the subject, here’s Becky Adams:

Japanese Prostitution

Customers…now have another option…at [Tokyo]…cuddle club Soineya…For $11 per minute, patrons…can ask for the oshiri makura (butt pillow) service and rest their heads on the behinds of its female staff…Customers must first pay an admission fee — starting at 3,000 yen (around $34) — and then have the option to purchase premium services, such as foot massages…[or] laying in a female employee’s lap

Don’t Buy It

Interestingly, “sex trafficking” fetishists waited until Super Bowl Sunday to trot out their claims this year, probably to avoid the high-profile debunking which will soon be inevitable; the story was updated less than 38 hours after its initial appearance to include a reference to an article for which I was consulted last year and the opinion of Rachel Lloyd, a “sex trafficking” promoter who has criticized the rampant exaggerations and the “gypsy whores” myth.  The main attraction is yet another soi-disant “survivor” spouting the typical tinned narrative (brutal pimp, 50 clients a day, etc), and there’s a bonus appearance by SOAP.  The most interesting bit is this snapshot of “Chinese Whispers” in action:  the story claims that “133 underage arrests for prostitution were made in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl,” when in actuality a very-typical 133 adult arrests of all types (not prostitution alone) were made in the 2½ weeks before the Super Bowl.  The number of actual “pimps” arrested?  One, an idiot who got the idea from the hype.

Get Out of the 19th Century Often?

Atlanta’s police chief…George Turner has asked city council to approve a…banishment law…the first conviction would result in the accused prostitute being ordered not to return to the area they were arrested…upon second conviction, the accused prostitute would be banished from city limits forever…Larry Miller…said he supports anything that would put a dent in the prostitution plague…

Human beings are now a “plague” to be “banished” from an autocrat’s realm.

Hollywood pimpChupacabra

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the “pimp” myth:

…I have never met a person even remotely like the stereotypical pimp, and yet I “know” they exist, largely because I have been told so over and over again.  I’ve met streetwalkers, both drug-addicted and not; escorts and call girls, same; not one ever had what popular imagination would classify as a “pimp,” but then I keep getting told I’m not representative, so maybe the literally hundreds of…sex workers I’ve met are just “not representative” too?…Independent sex workers who organise their own affairs…Roommates who share a flat…escort agencies with a dozen or so girls…Massage parlour owners.  Women whose house is used by other sex workers…People who set up message boards and internet forums…All of these are…called “pimps” by the anti-sex lobby.  A guy in a crushed velvet suit on a street corner, keeping his girls high and working the neighbourhood?  Not so many of those…

A Working System

Look past the fashionable “sex slave” rhetoric to what’s actually going on here:

…Chee Mei Wong…[allegedly] ran the Diamonds brothel in …Sydney…between…2008 and 2010…[and] employed six women…who…were told they would have to work until they paid off the cost of their airfare, visa and course fees [around $5000]…Despite…having paid off their debt after a “short period of time” it is alleged Ms Wong threatened she would have their visas revoked if they left.  But Ms Wong’s barrister Bruce Quinn said she…only worked at the brothel as…receptionist…[and] the matter was simply an “industrial dispute” and a “sham” created so the women could stay in Australia…

These sorts of conflicting claims are not unusual in contract disputes, and unfortunately many people are quick to accuse others of wrongdoing in order to divert government attention from themselves.  The important thing is that nobody here was criminalized for her profession, and the same situation could have arisen in any industry employing migrants.

My Readers Write

Aspasia published a bang-on and hilarious parody of medicalized pop-psychology entitled “Join Me in the Fight Against Whorephobia” which you simply MUST read in its entirety to appreciate.  I also recommend this thoughtful essay in which Obsidian proposes that the same shortage of eligible women which is at the root of so much violence in the Middle East may also influence the differences between homicide rates in American cities:

the Big Apple saw a 50-year record low of just over 400 murders in a city of over 8 million; while for Chicago, the murder rate topped 500, with a population of roughly 2.5 million.  Much has been said about the differences…in…their approaches toward fighting crime…Chicago has a proportionately larger police force than does NYC…[but] there are more Women to Men in NYC, than in Chicago…it’s been long known that whenever there are more males to females anywhere, trouble ensues.  Indeed, we are beginning to see this manifest itself in earnest in places like China and India, where the male to female sex ratio is so off the chain that extreme exhibitions of behavior are being seen on the part of the males

See No Evil

Peanuts pornU.S. District Judge Dean Whipple sentenced Christjan Bee of Monett, Missouri, to three years in prison for “possessing an obscene image of the sexual abuse of children…[namely] a collection of electronic comics, entitled ‘incest comics,’…[containing] multiple images of minors engaging in graphic sexual intercourse with adults and other minors”…In other words, he is going to prison for drawings; no actual children were involved at any point.

A Moral Cancer (Metaupdates)

You may have seen the latest “meat kills!” pseudo-study; of course, the media didn’t bother to report that the “researchers” and sponsors were all vegetarians who didn’t bother to control for little things like diabetes and age.

Above the Law

Well, this is different:

[Vincent Burroughs of] Oregon…has filed a lawsuit against an IRS agent…claiming he was coerced into [a sexual] relationship…Dora…Abrahamson contacted Burroughs about an audit…flirted with [him] over the telephone…offered him massages and sent him a photo of herself in her underwear…”She said that she could impose no penalty, or a 40 percent penalty, and that if he would give her what she wanted, she would give him what he needed”…

Traffic Jam

Mexican officials broke up a bizarre cult that allegedly ran a sex-slavery ring…The “Defensores de Cristo”…allegedly recruited women to have sex with a Spanish man who claimed he was the reincarnation of Christ…Followers were subjected to forced labor or sexual services, including prostitution…prosecutors were still trying to work out which of the detainees may be considered victims, and which were abusers…

Cult messiahs invariably have sex with female followers, and how is contributing sexual labor any different from contributing money or other labor as members of established religions do?  But due to “trafficking” hysteria, it becomes “sex slavery” even though the “authorities” themselves admit that any assignment of “victim” and “abuser” status will be arbitrary.Maria Zulfiqar Khan

Yellow Fever

The high standards of American journalism have reached Pakistan:

Meet Doctor Maria Zulfiqar Khan…In her recent programme, she conducted a self-styled raid on a massage center in Lahore…and harassed the women…police [accompanied] her, but she played being in charge…we see women helplessly trying to hide their faces…[and Khan]…going through handbag of a lady…picking up a condom…and shouting…”what is this? what is this?”…Khan also plays being an interrogator…and…at one point, not agreeing to the answers…says sarcastically, “yeah right, tell that to the cops when they take you”…At the end of the programme…she visits [the] house of one of the girls…and…tells her audience “this man made [his] daughter a prostitute, what an animal he is”…

Under Duress

For those who suspect I’m biased, here’s legal scholar Michelle Alexander:

…police have a special inclination toward confabulation…[and] an incentive to lie…[they] shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so…Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner…[decried] a police culture that treats lying as the norm…Gustin L. Reichbach of the [New York] Supreme Court…condemned a widespread culture of lying…in…drug enforcement units…the Bronx district attorney’s office was so alarmed by police lying that it decided to stop prosecuting people who were…arrested for trespassing at…housing projects…Numerous scandals involving police officers lying or planting drugs…have been linked to federally funded drug task forces eager to keep the cash rolling in…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (TW3 #34)

The Indian Supreme Court’s waffling on decriminalization has emboldened prohibitionist legislators, who tried to quietly criminalize prostitution by defining all sex work as “exploitation” and therefore illegal under existing law.  The National Network of Sex Workers has appealed to the President of India to veto this sleazy back-door scheme, but if he does not you can bet a court challenge will not be long in coming since Indian sex workers, unlike most in the United States, are unified to fight for their rights.

Monkey Business

A minor war has broken out…in the village of Kiad [Saudi Arabia,] where large groups of hungry baboons from nearby valleys are attacking residences in search of food and drink…Adel Medini [said]…“The baboons are targeting empty houses and are well aware of what they are doing…They proceed according to studied plans. That’s why their attacks do not fail…a resident…[returns] to find his home in disarray.  Some people…thought that thieves had…ransacked their houses…”

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (TW3 #39)

Remember the scientists who proved one could find neural activity in a dead fish?  Well, here’s a video of a thought forming in the brain of a larval zebrafish:

So Close and Yet So Far

I really wish people who support legal prostitution would talk to actual sex workers or even just do a little research before writing articles which perpetuate ugly myths such as “It’s no longer just a drug-addled woman forced onto lonely street corners” (it never was), and “sex workers are likely reticent to draw attention to their illicit life by divulging STDs and surely no one checks customers for STDs”.  The latter is an especially damaging myth because you can guess his proposed “solution” to this nonexistent problem: compulsory disease checks for registered whores (but not amateurs, who are free to spread disease at will).

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

The Kansas…Supreme Court ruled that exotic dancers are employees of the club where they work, not independent entertainment contractors…[at] Club Orleans [in] Topeka…dancers were required to pay non-negotiable “rent” for use of the stage and dressing rooms, as well as extra fees for the disc jockeys and bouncers…House rules governed what the dancers could do in their shows and the prices they had to charge for specific types of dances…The women were required to sign in with the bouncer at the beginning of a shift and weren’t allowed to leave…until the end of the shift…

The Devil’s Toys

In this book review, Harvey Silverglate made the same point I did yesterday:

In Unlearning Liberty, [Greg] Lukianoff…[presents many] examples of campus censorship …65% of liberal arts campuses have speech codes that violate…free speech norms…Lukianoff…persuasively argues that…contemporary campuses can be seen essentially as incubators for a future society governed by censorship of iconoclastic ideas and kangaroo courts that enforce those prohibitions…some…now sitting on the federal bench do not blanch when innocent citizens are convicted of violating statutes and regulations that no normal person could possibly understand [because] students…get accustomed to the administrative tyranny…and…don’t have much adjusting to do when they gain, and abuse, real power of their own…

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It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.  –  H.L. Mencken

In “Imagination Pinned Down” I explained how the human mind can and often does distort or manufacture memories in order to support an individual’s belief system; I pointed out that the existence of such distortion and fabrication invalidates the whole concept of eyewitness testimony, because there is no simple way to test the veracity of a witness’ memories in order to establish them as true recollections of real events.  But that’s not the only reason eyewitness testimony should be cast from the legal pedestal on which it has long been enshrined; people suffering from false memories at least believe what they say on the stand, but a far larger group of witnesses simply lie.

It has been well known for decades that police habitually falsify reports, manufacture or destroy evidence, and routinely commit perjury in order to convict innocent people or exonerate “brother officers” guilty of crimes.  The practice even has a name, “testilying”, and seems to have become the rule rather than the exception in the 1960s (when courts began to strengthen the rights of the accused); by 1992 a poll of judges and prosecutors showed that in their belief at least 20% of police testimony was false, and since it is in the best interest of these officials to minimize the issue we can estimate the real figure was more like 40-50%.  Since then, virtually everyone who has studied the practice agrees it has grown steadily worse, largely due to the “War on Drugs” and the “thin blue line” mentality cultivated by increasing police militarization.  Legal ethicists believe it has reached epidemic proportions:  in 1998 noted defense attorney and law professor Alan Dershowitz testified before Congress on the extent of the problem and quoted a police source who said, “Cops are almost taught how to commit perjury when they are in the Police Academy” and that when it comes to minor offenses, “they’re almost always lying.”

One unintended consequence of universal criminality is that since nearly everyone has been accused of some crime or another (including traffic violations and the like) at some point in his life, a very large number of people have themselves been the victims of “testilying”; as a result, juries have become increasingly skeptical of police testimony (especially in consensual crimes), much to the chagrin of prosecutors.  But they and police have moved to fill the credibility gap by another method:  suborning perjury from manufactured “witnesses”.  Now, this is really nothing new; the use of torture to extract “confessions” of witchcraft, heresy or treason is probably as old as civilization, and the practice of rewarding jailhouse stool pigeons for hearsay evidence goes back at least to Biblical times.  But in the past few decades a new technique called “climbing the ladder” has gained in popularity among prosecutors, and to a lesser extent among police.

As explained by Harvey Silverglate in Three Felonies a Day, it works like this:  Say federal prosecutors want to bring down the head of a corporation, either because of personal enmity or merely because his conviction will make a valuable trophy.  Such a man is likely to have money and lawyers who will defeat any ill-supported accusations, so the prosecutors need a strong, credible witness to whatever “crime” they wish to frame their victim for.  But anyone close enough to the real target will also have access to legal protection, so the inquisitors start small:  they find some patsy whom they can threaten with total social and economic devastation and decades in prison via a host of spurious criminal charges, then make him a deal.  He will be “allowed” to plead guilty to a lesser charge, and perhaps even avoid prison time altogether, if he will agree to swear on the stand to whatever cock-and-bull story the prosecutors invent against the biggest victim he can credibly be depicted as having contact with.  This “evidence” is then used to threaten the new victim with a similar roster of imaginary offenses, and he, too is offered a deal…and so on, and so on, until they reach the top of the ladder or someone refuses to play the game, at which point he becomes a proxy sacrifice for the victim they really wanted to skin.

This is, of course, the method prosecutors use to bring down escort service owners, though in such cases the ladder is a much shorter one:  escorts are threatened with prostitution charges, tax audits, abduction of their children and the like in order to suborn perjury against the service owner; this is necessary because the “crime” of pandering is not a serious enough charge to justify the time and expense, and the prosecution must therefore manufacture “evidence” of money laundering, mail fraud, Mann Act violations, and most recently “human trafficking”.  The latter is not limited to actual service or brothel owners, nor even to people who actually have any direct business connection to whores; these are the cases in which the police are as likely to be the agents of coercion as prosecutors.  Imagine yourself a teenage streetwalker hauled in by a group of brutal thugs and thrown into a cell, threatened with imprisonment on whatever charges they can dream up…and then a detective or social worker comes in to play “good cop”, telling you that they know you’ve been “trafficked” and are willing to drop all charges – maybe even get you some goodies like a place to live and medical care – if you’ll just tell them the name of the bad men who “forced” you into prostitution.  Faced with such a choice, do you honestly believe you’d hesitate to name somebody – anybody – in order to get the deal?

As long as prostitution is criminalized, the only dependable way to discover the extent of coercion in the trade is to get that information from researchers who can win the confidence of a large enough sample of workers to be considered representative.  Any such statistics touted by police or other “authorities” is as questionable as the “testimony” they belch out in court, because there is absolutely no way to know how many so-called “human traffickers” were caged due solely to perjury coerced from frightened whores by cops and prosecutors eager to score the currently-popular fad conviction.

One Year Ago Today

Village Voice Strikes Again” is a brief account of the beginning of what Village Voice Media tells us will eventually become a full-fledged campaign for decriminalization.

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