Archive for November 7th, 2010

A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell

I first became aware of this book after reading Dr. Russell’s article “Why I Got Fired From Teaching American History” in the Huffington Post, and I was immediately intrigued by his statement, “I demonstrated that prostitutes, not feminists, won virtually all the freedoms that were denied to women but are now taken for granted.”  So I sent him an email asking whether that statement was elaborated upon in the book, and was delighted when he responded almost immediately in the affirmative. Accordingly, I went out the next day and bought the book at Barnes & Noble, actually paying FULL PRICE for it; though my thrifty soul rebelled from the idea, I was so intrigued I just had to find out what he had to say.  I was not disappointed; Dr. Russell’s premise is that our freedoms were not magnanimously “granted” by those in power nor earned by the “don’t make waves” middle class, but rather won by the outcasts who refused to conform to social norms…including, but not remotely limited to, prostitutes.  Chapter 4 is entirely devoted to us, and other chapters cover the contributions of drinkers, slaves, various immigrant groups, lovers of “controversial” music and homosexuals.

Throughout the book, Russell refuses to toe the politically correct line on anything; he presents facts (many from primary sources) which self-professed “liberals” and “conservatives” alike would rather nobody knew, so it’s not at all surprising he was denied tenure and “let go” from his teaching position despite overwhelming protests from his students; after all, we can’t have young people learning facts that contradict the official view of history, now can we?  Anyone interested in the conflict of the individual vs. the collective needs to read this, as does anyone interested in social history; the rest of you can make up your minds after you read my interview of Dr. Russell, appearing in this column on November 12th if everything goes as planned.

Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society by Peter McWilliams

This is not a fun book, but it is an important one.  Not that it’s a difficult read, mind you; it’s broken into five main sections and dozens of small, digestible chapters, and nearly every page has some sort of interesting or funny quote intended to illustrate the author’s points.  It is, however, quite long and a lot of it may anger you; the author intended it to be browsed over weeks rather than plowed through in days.  But if you are a thinking person who cares about liberty, read it you must; McWilliams not only discusses the history of society’s treatment of consensual crimes, but presents compelling legal, philosophical, moral, practical and economic reasons why government should abandon the practice of meddling in the personal affairs of individuals.  Among the topics covered are prostitution, drug use, gambling, homosexuality, pornography and mandatory seat belt laws.

McWilliams was a bestselling author of self-help books who was probably drawn to this topic because of his homosexuality, and published Ain’t Nobody’s Business in 1993.  But three years later, his interest in the topic became more than academic when he was diagnosed with both AIDS and cancer and needed marijuana to control the violent illness which resulted from his drug therapy.  He became a medical marijuana activist who testified before the National Academy of Sciences and granted numerous media interviews about his personal experiences with the anti-emetic effects of marijuana, but just two weeks after publishing an article in Daily Variety (December 1997) in which he specifically stated that he used marijuana, a horde of heavily-armed DEA thugs invaded his house and stole his computer and files; he was arrested a few months later in July 1998.  The charge was not possession of marijuana but being a “drug lord”; the rather convoluted rationale for this was that as the publisher of Prelude Press he had given an advance to an author for a book on medical marijuana, and that writer had used a portion of the advance to grow his own medical marijuana.  Since Prelude Press was the source of the funds the man had used to finance his crop, that made McWilliams a “drug lord” and allowed the Feds to close down his company and seize virtually all of his assets.

Note that by this time California had already legalized medical marijuana, but the federal government decided to act in order to gag a persistent gadfly.  One of the conditions of McWilliams’ bail was a weekly urine test, which he could not fail because his elderly mother had put up her house as property bond for his bail and the feds would steal it and throw her out into the street if her son were sent back to jail.  So he was forced to be constantly ill and often threw up his medications; without them he quickly grew weaker and was soon wheelchair-bound.  The federal judge refused to allow McWilliams or his attorney to mention his terminal illness, the fact that he used marijuana as medicine or the fact that he was permitted to do so under California law, but the kangaroo court which resulted was never finished because on June 14, 2000 McWilliams choked to death on his own vomit.

All of McWilliams’ books are available to read for free on his website; here is the link for this book.  For more information on the man himself, see this Wikipedia article.

The Internet Escort’s Handbook, Book 1 (Basic Mental, Emotional and Physical Considerations in Escort Work) and The Internet Escort’s Handbook, Book 2: Advertising and Marketing (Successfully Creating and Selling Your Image Online) by Amanda Brooks

Some of you may recognize Amanda as a regular commenter on this blog, or as the author of After Hours (which is linked in the column on the right); she is an escort, sex worker rights activist and the author of these two books for the neophyte escort.  If you are thinking of becoming an escort or have recently become an escort it might be a very good idea for you to pick up book one, and even if you’re a relatively experienced escort who wants to expand her business book two could be very enlightening to you.  Don’t take my word for it; follow the links and read reviews and even excerpts from the books.  If you decide to buy, you can order them right there from a link on the page.  No, this is not a paid endorsement and I’m not getting a percentage; I honestly feel as though Amanda knows a lot more about the business end of escorting than I do and has thought longer and harder about how to increase business rather than just sort of following her instincts as I did, and thus would be a much better teacher for someone who really wants to succeed at it.

Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry by Frederique Delacoste and Priscilla Alexander (editors)

This collection of essays by working girls and proto-third-wave feminists was first published in 1987, a time when neofeminism had cemented its stranglehold on feminist discourse about sex work and it was nearly impossible for sex workers to be heard above the din of prohibitionist propaganda.  The newer and considerably expanded 1998 edition only serves to embellish the book’s original message, which is completely anti-prohibitionist and highly critical of the lies and distortions promoted by the anti-sex feminist establishment to further its campaign against prostitution by marginalizing and harming prostitutes.  As so often happens with books on this subject, the Amazon reviews are interesting in themselves; I was particularly amused by the one totally negative review, “Don’t Waste Your Money”, in which the reviewer simpered that “…the so-called “real” stories of sex workers do not at all seem authentic,” obviously because the prostitutes who wrote the essays weren’t all pathetic drug addicts who were raped as children.

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