Archive for November 23rd, 2010

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. –  Mark Twain

The “sex trafficking” witch hunt continues, this time courtesy of the State of Texas.  Though these articles are a dime a dozen these days, this one is of particular interest because it’s so all over the place; the terms “prostitute”, “sex worker” and “escort” are used interchangeably and with no apparent logic, as are “human trafficking”, “prostitution” and “the illegal sex trade”; because the word “trafficking” is not used to refer to one specific concept, I have placed it in quotes wherever it appears.  The guesstimates used in the article vary wildly even by the usual shoddy police standards, facts and opinions are arranged so haphazardly I didn’t even try to put them into a more logical order, and there seem to be at least three different prohibitionist philosophies clashing in this abortion they call a “task force”.  But my readers over the age of 30 with good memories may recognize the tone and pattern of the article:  It very closely resembles the sort of nonsense which appeared every week in all the mainstream news media at the height of the Satanic Panic in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI plan to bring nearly two dozen extra staffers to assist local law enforcement with combating “human trafficking” during Super Bowl XLV; the plans were first mentioned Wednesday at a meeting of the state’s “Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force” at Arlington City Hall.  Abbot opined that the Super Bowl is one of the biggest draws for prostitution, claiming:  “There is an organized effort to bring in children and women for the purpose of ‘human trafficking’ and for the purpose of the sale of sex.”

As in the “Satanic Panic”, grandiose claims are made and a huge conspiracy is alleged to exist without any proof whatsoever.  Read the last sentence carefully; what’s the phrase “human trafficking” doing there?  Is he using it to mean the transportation (which appears earlier in the sentence) or the forced prostitution (which appears directly after it)?  Or is he just throwing it in there because it’s a buzzword right now, like “23 skidoo” or “Where’s the Beef?”

He also said the “trafficking” has been well-documented at the last two Super Bowls, but the scale of the problem is difficult to quantify; he claimed that one Florida group estimated that tens of thousands were brought to the area to work in the illegal sex trade at a recent Super Bowl, but he said during his speech he only expects hundreds of sex workers to be trafficked into this area when the Super Bowl is held February 6th at Cowboys Stadium.  “We’re trying to get ahead of that problem by organizing in advance,” he said.  Abbott said that many surveys rank Texas as one of the worst states for “human trafficking”.  The estimates are that about 10,000 people are “trafficked” through Texas in the sex trade in a year.  Joseph Ullmann, an FBI special agent who handles crimes against children cases, said agents working at the last few Super Bowls have told him the scale of prostitution was “incredible.”

Cowboys Stadium seats 80,000 people, of whom 10,000 or more will be whores.

The “problem” is “well-documented”, but apparently not well enough to actually produce a reasonable estimate.  Just so you know, neither “hundreds” nor “tens of thousands” is anything close to reality; judging by what I saw in New Orleans, it’s more like a couple of dozen.  Touring girls don’t wait for major sporting events that will drive up the prices of hotel rooms, and conventioneers are a far more lucrative market that sports fans, most of whom attend with their families.  But as Dave points out in Sex Hysteria!, making wildly exaggerated  Criswell-like predictions of the number of hookers who will descend upon a major sporting event has become a popular pastime of prohibitionists.  Notice the pretense that escorts are “brought in” or “trafficked into the area”; obviously we’re not competent to drive, buy plane tickets or otherwise arrange our own travel.  The last sentence is particularly ludicrous; it makes it sound as though streetwalkers were hawking their wares in the stadium like hot-dog vendors.

While numbers vary, Abbott mentioned a couple of cases related to recent Super Bowls.  Two Florida men were recently convicted on federal charges for attempting to pimp a 14-year-old girl through the Craigslist website for a “Super Bowl special,” according to stories in Tampa area newspapers.  Craigslist has since shut down its “adult services” section because of complaints about prostitution advertisements.  The Florida Department of Children & Families took into care 24 children who were brought to the Tampa area in 2009 to serve as prostitutes in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, according to other news reports.

So of the “tens of thousands” of “trafficked children” estimated by the Florida group in the previous paragraph, the cops were able to find…one.  Unless you believe those unspecified and unattributed “other news reports”, in which case it was 24.  But still nobody questions these figures.  And they just couldn’t resist throwing Craigslist in there, though of course the sentence is an outright lie; Craigslist didn’t shut down adult services due to “complaints” but rather due to threats and harassment by government entities, i.e. censorship.

Sandy Skelaney, a program manager at Kristi House, a Miami-based child advocacy organization, said she doesn’t know of any reliable numbers for “child trafficking” and the Super Bowl.  But she said that during the street outreach in the days leading up to this year’s Super Bowl in South Florida, the group counted about four times the number of prostitutes as they would typically see.  “It’s [Super Bowl] synonymous with sex and drugs and partying,” Skelaney said.  She said she didn’t think the problem was worse now. What’s different, she said, is people’s awareness of the overlap between prostitution and “trafficking”.

Sandy is apparently being as honest as her blinders allow her to be, though she unsurprisingly confuses brainwashing with “awareness”.

The attorney general’s office expects to have as many as a dozen staffers in North Texas to help with “human trafficking” enforcement.  Abbott said they would deal exclusively with those crimes and leave prostitution cases to local law enforcement.  Ullmann told the task force that the FBI plans to supplement its local staff with 10 additional agents, officers, analysts and a supervisor.  He said analysts will be scouring websites, such as Backpage.com, looking for possible illegal activity.  The analysts will “keep us [agents] on the street where we need to be rather than sitting in front of a computer,” he said.

That’s right, the FBI (a federal agency) will be assisting cops in persecuting adult prostitutes, even though prostitution is not a federal offense.  Just let that sink in for a moment, and I’m sure you can imagine all sorts of things Uncle Sam can do once that precedent is firmly established.

Arlington Police Lt. Jerry Hataway said his department has increased its focus on prostitution and related crimes in the last few years.  Besides the sting operations and posting photos of prostitution clients on billboards, officers have started contacting escorts directly.  He said officers will text, call and e-mail suspected sex workers advertising their services in Arlington and warn them that officers are aware of them.  “Each day, 70 to 100 of these advertising are being contacted by my unit, trying to deter them and move them elsewhere,” Hataway said.  If past experience holds true, the numbers of escort ads could increase significantly by the end of January, just before the February 6th game.  Ullmann said that’s when more out-of-town and out-of-state phone numbers will start showing up on the ads.  “That’s usually your first clue that they’ve arrived,” he said.

Clearly, Arlington, Texas is such a Mecca for prostitution that they can harass 70 to 100 new girls EVERY DAY and yet still not get them all!  Obviously, Lt. Hataway has the same kind of ego problem as Chief Lisecki of Green Tree, Pennsylvania, another town under attack from veritable hordes of whores.  I’m honestly not sure what to think of this strategy; clearly it isn’t based in “trafficking” rhetoric because at least the Arlington Police department seems to recognize that the escorts are autonomous agents who are not in need of “rescue” from “traffickers”.  But really, what are they telling them?  “Officers are aware of them”?  Translation: “I spend all day on the public dole looking at online hooker ads and I saw yours.”  Whoop dee doo.  When I had my escort service the ad was there in the phone book all day, every day; I’m sure plenty of cops were “aware” of it.  Unless sleazy cops can trick a girl into a room with them there’s nothing they can do, and that’s exactly why persecuting victimless crimes has absolutely no lasting effect other than to waste public funds.

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