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The apparent path of the sun reached its northernmost point at 3:32 UTC today, marking the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the shortest day of the year & first day of winter in the Southern.  May all of your plans come to fruition in the fullness of time, and Blessed Be!

Links #572

Authorities say rise of fruit aliens is to blame for glut of outer space watermelons.  –  The New York Times

Here’s another novelty song, this one from 1970; I remember thinking it was hilarious when I was a kid.  The links above it were provided by Stephen Lemons, President Dawg, Cop Crisis, Dan Savage, Scott Greenfield, Jesse Walker, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

To what extent the prosecution will twist the law to its ends remains to be seen.  –  Stephen Lemons

Whore Madonnas (#808)

More from Juniper Fitzgerald:

…my children’s book, How Mamas Love Their Babies…is the only children’s book– to my knowledge– to include a sex-working mother: “Some mamas dance all night long in special shoes. It’s hard work!”…You would never suspect that such a modest inclusion of sex workers in a picture book about how parents provide for their children by any means necessary would provoke the bowels of the internet so profoundly.  Claims that I—along with Hilary Clinton, mind you—am sex-trafficking my own child grace my timeline even three years after publication.  My inbox still tells me that I am a literal witch and devil worshipper—whatever the fuck that means.  Or, my favorite, that I am “communist whore filth.”  It’s easy to dismiss Q-anon and #PizzaGate believers as a handful of rabid, marginal cultists.  But these…exist on the same continuum with wine-sipping white ladies who think sex workers are a threat to their children…

The Punitive Mindset (#880) 

“Drugs” are a popular pretext for petty vindictiveness in US prisons:

Billy Steffey…is a former federal inmate…still trying to fight the BOP for stripping him of good behavior credits and throwing him in solitary confinement for five months based on…an unverified [drug] test with a well-established track record of leading to wrongful arrests…[such] tests…[a]re not admissible…in court; and the manufacturers explicitly warn that all tests should be sent to crime labs to be verified…Yet the federal Bureau of Prisons relies solely on such tests to pu[nish prisoners]…and strip them of…rights…with virtually no avenue for recourse…The issues with these tests have been known for decades and are easily verifiable…In December [2017] a [screw] opened a package…legal…papers [that he claimed] felt “unusually thick” and gritty and looked discolored…many…prisons have…bann[ed] physical mail and used book donations…[under the pretext that] they…are [used]…to…s[muggle] drugs…[screws] tested the…papers…[and claimed they saw evidence of] amphetamines…[then] linked the package to Steffey after [rooting in his] email…threw him in…solitary…for five months…and…stripped him of 41 days of “good time” credit…

A Moral Cancer (#1000)

Because obviously prohibition doesn’t ruin enough lives yet:

[Oregon governor] Kate Brown…[approved] a bill banning the online sale of nicotine-containing vaping products to state residents…despite convincing evidence that limiting access to e-cigarettes drives users, especially young people, to traditional cigarettes that pose greater health risks…as politicians eternally pretend to not understand, banning things doesn’t mean that people give up on them.  Instead, it drives them to legal substitutes that may pose different or greater risks, or else to black market suppliers who offer products of unknown quality and safety.  [When] San Francisco banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in 2018…92 percent of [users] continued their habits after the ban…[but] high school students’ odds of smoking conventional cigarettes doubled…The conclusion that prodding youthful users from vaping to cigarettes is a bad idea is not [even] controversial…

Micromanagement (#1012)

This would be better news if judges didn’t simply rubber-stamp cops’ warrant requests:

Maryland and Montana have become the first states to pass laws…requir[ing] police to have court authorization…[and] probable cause…[Maryland further requires that] the crime being probed must be a murder, a rape, a felony sexual offense, or a “criminal act involving circumstances presenting a substantial and ongoing threat to public safety or national security”…AncestryDNA and 23andMe both prohibit such investigations using an ordinary user profile.  But other companies, such as FamilyTreeDNA and GEDMatch…allow police to [root in] their databases…[at will]…

Devil’s Advocate (#1114) 

Your periodic reminder that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

[Creepy weirdos] assigned to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s [Sympathetic Magic] Unit have arrested and charged a…man accused of possessing child[-shapd toasters]…in October 2020, [intrusive and unconstitutional surveillance revealed] that William Crowder…ordered a child[-shaped toaster] to be shipped to his home.  TBI agents subsequently [roo]ted…at Crowder’s residence and found at least six [toasters (it’s difficult to be sure because Tennessee cops can’t count that high)], several of them dressed in children’s clothing…Crowder [was charged] with six counts of [making toast in a way that upsets redneck busybodies]…

Stalkers in Blue (#1138)

Another cop demonstrating exactly what he is:

Minnesota State [pig] Albert Kuehne sat in his [pigmobile] in March 2020 and [rooted] through a phone belonging to a 25-year-old woman he’d just…[accused] of drunken driving…he [had no permission to even touch the phone, but] clicked through her photos [anyway].  Hours later, the woman’s boyfriend noticed something alarming on her MacBook, which was synced to her phone:  Outgoing text…messages to an unknown phone number with nude and partly clothed pictures of the woman attached.  When they called that unfamiliar number, Kuehne answered…Kuehne…[has finally] admitted that he sent himself three explicit photos of the woman, and then deleted the outgoing messages on the woman’s phone to try to cover his tracks.  Kuehne pleaded guilty…to a misdemeanor…

Dangerous Speech (#1138)

US “authorities” keep pretending “because sex” is an excuse for any tyranny:

During a June 7 status conference…in the Lacey/Larkin case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Rapp…objected to the phrase “escort services” in a survey question about whether jurors had “strong feelings” concerning…the “legal adult entertainment industry”…Rapp [claimed] that the phrase is “a misnomer” for “prostitution services…[that] suggests that escort services [are] somewhat legal”…Whitney Bernstein, an attorney for Jim Larkin, [correctly responded] that escort services are…legal…in…many…states…[Judge] Brnovich…overruled Rapp, allowing the question to remain…

Bathhouse 32

Last Saturday we finally got that eyesore of an awning off the back of my house!  The thing was so badly built, several of the cross-supports just fell down as soon as we pulled out the nails holding them to the sheet-metal roofing; in other words, the roofing was holding up the beams rather than vice-versa.  Honestly, it’s a wonder it hadn’t collapsed before, given that it seems to have been built in the late ’70s or early ’80s.  I can’t even imagine doing things as sloppily as the previous owners did; we joked that if they’d had a coat of arms, it would be the image of a man shrugging with the Latin for “Eh, good enough.”  After we cleared it away and I took this picture, we braced up the electrical cables you can see at left and constructed a temporary cover to keep anyone from contacting live connections, and to keep rain out (the permanent cover will need to wait for the roof to be finished).  I then cleaned that line of mildew visible under the eaves, which is where the back of the awning lay almost against the house (trapping moisture and making the area impossible to clean before).  We still have a long way to go, but at least we need no longer bend over to climb the ramp.  And before too much longer, we’ll be able to soak in the hot tub at the end of a day of construction.

To a writer, words are tools intended to convey meaning and express beauty; to governments, words are tools intended to obscure meaning and oppress nonconformity.  To writers, language is the means by which we attempt to convey our thoughts to others; when we succeed, we introduce others to new ideas and possibly give them a new way of looking at a particular topic they may not have considered before.  But to authoritarians, language is a means of constraining thought and smothering new ideas.  Proper use of language opens minds; improper use closes them down.

The obfuscatory language government uses to obscure violence is a prime example.  There are a host of special words by which governments cloak their barbarities: abduction is euphemized as “arrest”, robbery as “confiscation” or “asset forfeiture”, sexual assault as “searching”, and murder as “execution”.  But those traditional terms are quaint and relatively clear in comparison to the obfuscatory language invented by modern propagandists to conceal evils in sterile, bloodless, technical-sounding terminology.  Intentionally ramming another car at freeway speeds with the specific intention of causing someone to crash is cloaked under the boring-sounding phrase “performed a PIT maneuver”.  Firing barbed probes carrying 50,000 volts into another human being is desribed by the apparently-mundane “deploying a taser”.  An armed government thug intentionally murdering someone in the street is called an “officer-involved shooting”.  A sadistic thug paid to torture and rape human beings held in cages against their will is a “correctional officer”, and so on.

The longer and more clinical a phrase, the less emotional weight it carries; Orwell would’ve well understood why the government wants to replace the word “ram” (short, direct, terse, active, hits like a punch) with the phrase “perform a PIT maneuver” (long, indirect, mushy, passive, hits like a nerf ball).  But it’s even more instructive to compare these phrases government operatives use to whitwash their own behavior with those used to demonize “enemies of the state”.  How do cops describe a legally-innocent person they choose to accuse of some crime?  “Perp”.  What about a person who refuses to allow puritanical busybodies to control their consensual, private behavior? “Criminal” (There are a number of even shorter, punchier words for “sex criminals”).  And those who refuse to comply with what they believe to be tyranny?  “Traitors”.  Government actors aren’t incapable of using direct, easy-to-understand language; they’re perfectly capable when they want to represent an ethically-complex situation as a black-and-white one.  But disguising their own abominations requires exactly the opposite approach: confusing simple minds with complex phrases so as to create ambiguity where little exists.

All moral panics blend real societal problems with the cartoon version.  –  Michael Hobbes

The Widening Gyre (#792) 

Trying to prop up the “Facebook pimps” myth with bogus “studies”:

…re[scue industry profiteers pompously branding themselves]…the Human Trafficking Institute [claimed] “The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and…Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims”…[a bogus government] report showed that 30 percent of all victims identified in federal sex trafficking cases in the past two decades – since 2000 – were recruited online…and 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook…

Blunt Instrument (#998)

The government’s latest sleazy trick: attacking with civil suits rather than criminal charges, because the burden of proof is reversed:

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a civil lawsuit against an [Asian] massage business…in St. Louis County.  The lawsuit [is based in the “evidence” that] Royal Day Spa…has its front windows covered and that it’s open late…[cops made pretextual] traffic stops…[of] three [men, threatening them with nuisance charges to get them to parrot] Schmitt’s [racist claims]…about the…Spa.  Schmitt [masturbated furiously while vomiting out moronic phrases such as]…dark underworld…modern-day slavery…and…human trafficking in illicit massage businesses…[he also shared his shockingly-racist sex fantasies about how all Asian women are stupid and ignorant and need white men to “rescue” and deport them]…

The End of the Beginning (#1015) 

Maybe we’re about to witness the beginning of the end of these evil laws:

The S.C. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the state’s lifetime sex offender registration requirement is unconstitutional and people who demonstrate a low risk of reoffending should be able to petition a judge to have their names purged…[until now] South Carolina [has] provide[d victims ofthe law]…no recourse to seek relief from a judge…Brooke Burris…a…Human Trafficking [fetishist, vomited out a lot of ugly nonsense about the so-called]…victims [of public urination or consensual teen sex]…

A Broker in Pillage (#1038)

Nobody will be safe until this odious, contemptible practice is recognized as unconstitutional:

In February…almost eight years after the state of Indiana s[tole] Tyson Timbs’ brand-new Land Rover over a drug crime, prosecutors argued that…the government should…be free to take everything you’re worth.  [Last week], the state’s highest court categorically rejected that…Chief Justice Loretta Rush likened the government’s chutzpah to “Captain Ahab’s chase of the white whale Moby Dick”…[But] Indiana p[oliticians haven’t yet learned their lesson]…also in February…the Indiana Senate passed a bill to [rob] people [cops accuse] of [attending] “unlawful”…protests…

The Implosion Begins (#1075)

I did not foresee that the “sex trafficking” moral panic would implode in such a spectacular and entertaining fashion:

…the women who share…pastel, mom-washed #savethechildren posts [don’t c]are that they [a]re spreading Q propaganda…The statistics [they] share…have been repeatedly and publicly debunked by NGOs…[and] researchers…But [they think that]…doesn’t matter…They [also follow]…Tim Ballard…of the Utah…rescue [industry] group Operation Underground Railroad…[who] has [prom]oted…the child sex trafficking panic [even in its most unhinged aspects].  As the Wayfair h[ysteria] took off [last] July, he released a video…claiming that “children are sold that way” and that “law enforcement will get to the bottom of it.”  Since then, the organization has publicly [distanced itself from] QAnon…But, at the time, Ballard [continues to claim] child sex trafficking is a growing global crisis…

See also “Served Cold” below.

The Cop Myth (#1118)

If they actually punished wife-beating cops, they’d lose half of them:

A Garda…sexual assault[ed his girlfriend], threaten[ed] to kill [her] and [exercised] coercive control…in a “grand scheme” to control her life…He was charged with 35 offences…includ[ing] four counts of assault…two [of] sexual assault…10 [of] criminal damage…a threat to kill, endangerment of life, four thefts, coercion…[and] harassment…the woman…was punched in the face, grabbed by the neck, held against the floor and…choke[d]…he pulled her hair out by the roots and kicked her on the ground…the…harassment…[included] 65,000 phone messages…a number of [which included] a threat to kill…her…

Served Cold (#1138) 

The schadenfreude is so very sweet:

[Prohibitionist actor] Jim Caviezel appeared [at a conference] in Oklahoma…to promote his newest role, in which he plays Tim Ballard, the founder…of the [rescue industry] group Operation Underground Railroad, [with “sex trafficking” fetishist Mira Sorvino as his wife]…there…he…[also] promoted…the…QAnon [branch]…of [“sex trafficking” hysteria, which]…was awkward at best for OUR, which has spent the better part of a year insisting that it…is not affiliated with…QAnon…[despite] Ballard…[himself endorsing the belief last summer]…After years of success…OUR[‘s]…carefully-crafted image is coming undone…several people have been interviewed about their dealings with OUR not just by [a Utah prosecutor], but by the FBI…IRS and Homeland Security…among the matters being looked into are whether OUR operators have [raped people they branded] human trafficking victims…and whether OUR has committed human trafficking itself…

QAnon weirdness is not especially extreme from an organization which gets “tips” from psychics and has claimed that “pimps” use magic padlocks to trap doll-like girls in cages.

Diary #572

Every year, my anxiety increases as the days lengthen, yet every year I seem to forget that until it has gone on for a while; I start feeling all weird and restless and agitated, but somehow it never dawns on me why I feel that way until late May or early June.  It probably doesn’t help that my brain is sneaky, so as soon as I figure out why I’m feeling a certain way, it starts manifesting in a new way.  For example, I used to carry a lot of stress in my muscles, and as soon as I’d figure out that a mystery ache was stress-related it would clear up and move someplace else in my body.  Last year I got lucky; I believe the anxiety mostly manifested in the obsessive home-improvement project I’ve been telling y’all about for over a year.  But this year, the rain delayed our getting started as early in the season, so the anxiety seems to have manifested in an unusual degree of procrastination, disinterest in doing things I really need to get done, and just plain forgetting.  Maybe now that I’ve figured it out I’ll be able to fight it a little better, and in another week the days will begin to slowly grow shorter anyway.  But that probably means next year it will choose some entirely new and strange way to make my life more difficult, and I’ll have to figure it out from scratch again.

Filibusting

The filibuster is a parliamentary procedure, going back at least to the Roman Senate, which allows one or a small group of politicians to obstruct some action desired by the majority in order to force a compromise or even complete abandonment of the action.  As such, it tends to be popular among members of minority parties and unpopular among members of majority parties, who resent any need to consider the views of anyone not belonging to their political tribe; naturally, what this means in the US duopoly is that the poisonous hypocrites infesting one “wing” of the ruling class rightfully recognize the filibuster as a guardrail against tyranny when they’re in the minority, but vocally attack it as “anti-democratic” when they’re in the majority.  Since the Democratic wing of the US Fascist party is now in the majority, we’re once again forced to endure pompous polemics from po-faced pundits on why obstructing the freight train of government is a “threat to democracy”; the only reason we don’t generally see the same when the Republican wing is in the majority is that most US journalistic outlets tend to favor Democrat-flavored authoritarianism over the GOP-flavored variety.  But the sentiment is always lurking out there regardless of whether it’s currently espoused by popular pseudo-intellectuals with pulpits, because banning the filbuster tends to be supported by the kind of nitwit who believes their favored party will always be in the majority and will never need to stop a drive toward some law they consider odious.  And such nitwits are the backbone of both of the most popular violent authoritarian cabals in the US.

Sorry, but “democracy” isn’t supposed to be a synonym for “mob rule”; any “democracy” or “republic” must recognize the inalienable rights of minority groups no matter what the majority wants or how badly it wants it, or else it’s no better than any other authoritarian tyranny (and far less efficient in the bargain).  When faced with a mob who wants to trample me, I don’t much care whether the leader of that mob was chosen by popularity contest or drawing lots, advanced bureaucratically, inherited the position from his dad or mom, or claims to have been appointed by the gods.  I don’t care whether the members of that mob stomp first with their left boots or their right, or whether they employ ushers to ensure I’m trampled “equally”.  I don’t care whether the majority of mob members are male, female, androgynous or sexless, nor do I give a damn about the relative darkness of their skins, what language they speak, or whose body parts they prefer to fondle or have jammed into their faces.  Neither do I care about their supposed “reasons” for trampling me, nor whether they claim my trampling was “proper” or “fair” or “according to procedure”, nor whether some person they define as being like me in some way (important to them but not to me) was part of the mob.  I just want the fucking mob to leave me the fuck alone.  And while the chances of anyone who cares any more about me than about any given specimen of roadkill actually standing up to filibuster against some legal abomination is so close to zero that the difference couldn’t be detected with an electron microscope, any grit that is available for anyone to throw into the gears of governmental oppression is a positive good which should be expanded, not eradicated.

Links #571

I will not be intimidated [by a flying dildo].  –  Manuel Gonzales

I must admit I like the ooga-chaka version better, but it was B.J. Thomas who passed away recently, not anyone from Blue Swede.  The links above the video were provided by Jesse Walker (x2), Billy Binion, Cop Crisis (x2), Scott Greenfield, and Tim Cushing, in that order.

From the Archives

Prohibitionists never want to hear from sex workers who want rights rather than rescue, and they don’t want anyone else to hear them either.  –  Mark Draughn

The Birth of a Movement

Another excellent article by stalwart friend of whores Mark Draughn:

…International Whores’ Day has been celebrated on June 2 for 45 years.  Naturally, this day pisses off…prohibitionists, who…are [now] trying to replace International Whores’ Day with their own re-branded International Day of Remembrance for women who died in prostitution.  What makes this especially creepy is that…anti-prostitution laws are one of the biggest causes of violence against sex workers…If you follow sex workers rights issues, you may know that the traditional day for remembering those who died by violence is not June 2 but December 17, which is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers…[but a quick search of prohibitionist] twitter feeds [from] December 17th…finds lots of ranting about brothels and pimps, but no recognition that it’s the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers…The prohibitionists’ failure to recognize the long-established International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers reveals the hollowness of their concern for the victims of violence in the sex trade.  It’s clear their attempt to establish an International Day of Remembrance is little more than an…attempt to erase International Whores’ Day…

Backwards into the Future (#963)

Will South Africa decriminalize province by province?

The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature…resolved to fast-track the process of decriminalising and regulating sex work…during a sex work symposium held in Pietermaritzburg…as part of the legislature’s public participation programmes…the resolutions…[will] be…debated by political parties prior to execution.  At least 55 sex workers and their representative organisations were part of the discussions.  Dudu Dlamini from Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce…said they wanted a decree before 2024…

I Spy (#1069)

Remember, Amazon eagerly hands data from internet-connected devices to cops:

…buried inside millions of Amazon Echo…speakers and Ring…cameras….[is] the ability to make a new kind of wireless network called Sidewalk that shares a slice of your home Internet connection with your neighbors’ devices.  And on Tuesday, Amazon…switch[ed] Sidewalk on — for everyone.  I’m digging into my settings to turn it off.  Sidewalk raises more red flags than a marching band parade: Is it secure enough to be activated in so many homes?  Are we helping Amazon build a vast network that can be used for more surveillance?  And why didn’t Amazon ask us to opt-in before activating a capability lying dormant in our devices?…

Comfort Zone (#1072)

An especially-incompetent attempt to hide migration control behind the “trafficking” narrative:

The Biden administration…announce[d] new actions to combat [migration by branding it] trafficking as [Copmala] Harris embarks on [a propaganda] trip to Latin America to look into ways of a[ttack]ing the root causes of regional migration…[without actually providing any] additional aid…Harris will also be [trying to remove motes from the eyes of] the governments of countries from which people are fleeing, though [not removing the beam from her own first]…

I Spy (#1082)

Curiosity offends the state, comrade:

…In an insane new bit of federal…overreach, the FBI demanded that USA Today turn over records showing who read a February story about two FBI agents killed in Florida.  The FBI sought…I.P. addresses…[of] all “computers and other electronic devices” that accessed the story during a 35-minute period on the evening of the shooting…USA Today‘s parent company, Gannett, asked a federal court to quash the…subpoena…[as blatantly] unconstitutional and…amid the publicity, the FBI backed off…but…doesn’t seem to think it did anything wrong.  The FBI [only]…withdr[e]w the subpoena because…the person it sought to find…was identified “through other means”the FBI…had other ways to find the suspect…and…still decided that infringing on freedom of the press was a good first step…

Permanent Record (#1099)

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to shut us out of other jobs?

A sales rep at a T-Mobile store in Fort Worth, Texas has filed a gender discrimination suit against the company after a [personnel manager] in[terrogated] her about having an OnlyFans account.  Caitlyn Stevens had been working at T-Mobile for nearly seven years when a male colleague became angry…and approached her…“in a physically aggressive manager,” forcing a coworker to step in and stop the man from hitting her.  Stevens reported the incident to the store manager.  Rather than disciplining the ma[n]…the manager relocated Stevens to a different location…[which] got less foot traffic, resulting in fewer [commissions]…When Stevens submitted a complaint…a man…called…and began asking questions about her personal life, including “whether she had a ‘sugar daddy’ and whether she had an OnlyFans account”…Then…added, “We’ve heard that people have seen nude pictures of you”…

Guinea Pigs (#1101)

They’re going way beyond fake Facebook profiles now:

…for years…the FBI …[ran an encrypted messaging system called] Anom by…working with [other fascist government] partners, including the Australian Federal Police…to [spy on] the co[nvers]ations [of every single user, excusing the outage by branding all users “criminals”]…their developer source “built a master key into the existing encryption system which surreptitiously attaches to each message and enables [pigs and spooks] to [root through each]…message as it is transmitted”…Since October 2019, the FBI has catalogued “more than 20 million messages from a total of 11,800 devices…in over 90 countries.”  Most of this [snoop]ing seems to have been [to]…sniff…out drugs…[pigs] began [oink]ing [about] the results of the operation—including 700 houses [raid]ed and more than 800 [people abducted]…at a Tuesday morning press conference in The Hague…

These are the same people who thought it was perfectly OK and ethical to run their very own child porn site, so this isn’t a new low. But it does demonstrate just how far authoritarians will go to inflict violence on people for the “crime” of enjoying themselves in ways puritans dislike.