Archive for November 13th, 2010

A man who moralizes is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralizes is invariably plain. –  Oscar Wilde

I’ve discussed the “Swedish Model” (also called the “Nordic Model”) of prohibition several times before, most completely in my column of October 14th, and in my column of November 4th I predicted that more and more prohibitionists would shift to the Swedish rhetoric in order to capitalize on “human trafficking” hysteria, deflect arguments based on women’s right to control our own bodies and win the support of fence-sitters and even some misguided whores.  Well, I didn’t have to wait long for evidence; on November 8th the Police Department of Montgomery County, Maryland (suburban Washington, DC) posted the following manifesto on its website.  It goes far beyond the usual police distortions, omissions and blatant lies; pay close attention to the Nordic Model subtext which permeates the document and (by its presence on an official website) signals a shift in Maryland’s policy to this boldly misogynistic rhetoric attempting to disguise itself as concern for prostitutes.

The detectives in the Vice and Intelligence Section of the Special Investigations Division of the Montgomery County Police Department want to advise the public of initiatives they have enacted to address the growing concern of human trafficking.

The crime of human trafficking/prostitution may be thought to be a victimless and voluntary crime.  That notion is frequently portrayed in films and television shows but those story lines have very little to do with reality.  Although it is true that the demand side of the crime is voluntary, the provider side is often not voluntary.  The provider may not be a lone entity.  The provider can be exploited for money and often coerced through violent means by individuals, and that may go unnoticed by the public and law enforcement.  Frequently faceless corporations and persons that utilize the unregulated internet to openly promote illegal activities for a price benefit financially from this crime and fail to take any responsibility for it.

The public may not be as aware of the crime of human trafficking because it is generally hidden from public view.  The advertisement, recruitment, and exploitation of victims occur on a variety of internet sites.  Some internet sites have been created with the sole purpose of promoting the crime of human trafficking, but internet social sites are also commonly used to recruit victims into human trafficking.

The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to addressing the true benefactors of human trafficking and making them accountable for their illegal activities.  The following initiatives have been developed over the past year to address the use of the internet by individuals to promote and financially benefit from human trafficking:

1. The Vice Section has effectively shut down escort websites that blatantly advertise activities that are illegal in Maryland.  No other crime is so openly confessed to in any forum as the crime of human trafficking.  The Vice Section is using a variety of investigative techniques to make web hosts accountable for their complicity in the advertising of human trafficking.  Consequently, Web Hosts are eliminating the internet site from their servers.  This tactic has eliminated the internet sites for TGND Talent, Diamond Escorts, and Desirable Companions.  Sadly, these sites are now moving to servers outside the USA to continue their illegal activities.

2. The Vice Section has effectively infiltrated the Erotic Review website and identified key members of the group.  The Erotic Review is a website where members openly confess to illegal activities.  The website’s members rate women’s appearance, sexual performance, etc. while providing information on contact numbers, organized crime outfits, and local police activities.

3. The Vice Section through plea agreements is now operating established and once legitimate escort internet sites where “johns” are currently providing names, places of employment, and contact numbers as if they are communicating with the now defunct service.  These contacts are being utilized to arrange “john stings” and identify individuals on the demand side of human trafficking.

4. The Montgomery County Police Department has established a spread sheet that identifies all individuals advertising and participating in human trafficking in the jurisdiction of Montgomery County.  This spreadsheet identifies participants in human trafficking by name, alias, escort service, telephone number, etc.  The primary internet advertisers of human trafficking (EROS and Backpage) are being officially notified that these specific individuals are utilizing their site to participate in illegal activities.  The Vice Section is also requesting that Backpage and EROS discontinue the future advertisement of these individuals or be prepared to be found complicit in the crime of human trafficking.

5. The official notification to EROS and Backpage that probable cause exists that specific services and individuals have been found to be involved in human trafficking/prostitution and are utilizing their site to promote their illegal activities will eliminate their thinly veiled defense that they are not actively participating in prostitution.  This official notification will place these sites into the position of possible civil and criminal ramifications for failure to refuse these individuals advertising space on the sites.

6. The Vice Section has initiated outreach to individuals working in the sex trade.  The goal of this outreach program is to provide workers in the sex trade industry a safe place to report violence against them.  This outreach has resulted in one arrest warrant for robbery and a second report that should result in a warrant for violence committed against a sex worker.

The trafficked individuals are the face of the business and consequently the most exposed and accountable to law enforcement and the judiciary.  The true profiteers of human trafficking have learned to make large profits while allowing others to take all the risk.  These legal investigative tactics are bringing vice investigations into the 21st century and making everyone involved in the organized crime of human trafficking accountable for their actions.

As you can see, the post is nothing like the usual “we’re gonna bust them dirty whores” police strutting; it is as straightforward a piece of Nordic Model propaganda as I have ever seen, recast in the form of a typical police threat-announcement.  The second paragraph starts with a series of outright lies straight out of the standard propaganda pamphlet (including a total reversal of the truth by claiming that whore-positive media portrayals are false).  Then the rampant word-substitutions begin; throughout the document Nordic Model words and phrases are substituted for objective terminology as though by use of a word processor “search and replace” function.   Prostitution is called “human trafficking”, hookers are called “victims” and “trafficked individuals”, escort services are called “organized crime outfits”, clients are called “the demand side of human trafficking”, stage names are called “aliases”, and escort advertising sites are said to be “complicit in the crime of human trafficking”.  Finally, section 6 and the concluding paragraph are nothing but a gingerbread house; by pretending to be concerned for our welfare, these ogres wish to lure naïve young girls in so as to pump them for information, use them as bait and thus make them pariahs in their trade, unable to earn a living as they choose and thereby forced into whatever menial labor they can find from such human traffickers as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.

“Nordic model” propaganda pamphlet

Though the posturing and threats contained in sections 4 and 5 are wholly impotent because neither Backpage nor Eros are domiciled in Maryland (another reason tyrants all over the world hate the internet), their threats to infiltrate websites and bust clients in Maryland are not, and the chilling effect on Washington area escorts’ business will not be inconsiderable.  This is, of course, the whole Swedish strategy:  Concentrate on busting as many men as possible so as to scare the rest and decimate prostitutes’ business, thereby forcing many of those without an established client base out of the profession without having to arrest a single one and thereby demonstrating their outrageous sexism.  The Montgomery County Police Department’s unethical behavior doesn’t stop with lies and threats, either; on November 5th they resorted to spamming by attempting to use the Washington, DC site of Backpage itself to threaten potential clients!  The spam was quickly flagged as inappropriate content and removed by Backpage administration, but a computer-savvy escort was able to retrieve the posting from her cache and post it on an escort information board.  Note that the original contained the legal names of the men whose TER handles appear below, but since unlike the police I understand the concepts of “ethics” and “privacy rights” I have replaced the names with asterisks.

Montgomery County Police Seeking Information – 99

posted: November 5, 2010, 12:39 PM

The Montgomery County, Department of Police, Vice Section, is tasked with investigating those involved in Human Trafficking and Prostitution.  In doing so, the Vice Section has obtained information through informants and other investigative means on individuals that have frequented an internet site known as www.theeroticreview.com (TER), Date Check, Preferred 411 and Back Channel.  The Vice Section has compiled a list of individuals, along with email addresses, home and work phone numbers, home and business addresses and the handles associated with these sites.  In an effort to further our investigation the Vice Section is seeking the assistance of others who have information on the following individuals on TER:

the-mailman – *************
mpduration – *************
bertlancaster – *************
Nuvela Man – *************
Geojohn – *************
Bill Nilla – *************
Tophervette – *************
Biggered – *************

Please contact the Vice Section at [their email address] with any information on these individuals.

Poster’s age: 99

As much as I’ve said and will continue to say about the evil, misogyny and tyranny inherent in the “Swedish Model”, it cannot hope to compare with the knowledge of an anthropologist specializing in sex work.  I thereby leave you with this link to an essay on the moral bankruptcy of prohibitionists, which appeared on The Naked Anthropologist, the blog of Laura Agustín (author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry) on the same day as the Montgomery County announcement was published.

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