Archive for September 10th, 2011

Thus one can observe that those who proclaim piety as their goal and purpose usually turn into hypocrites.  –  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Arianna Huffington isn’t a stupid woman, nor one lacking in (to use Catherine Hakim’s term) erotic capital; like any sensible woman she’s used her brains and her relationships with men to get where she wanted to be, and is now very successful.  And when (in the late ‘90s) she saw signs of the impending economic collapse, she made sure she switched to loudly preaching a simple-minded partisan “liberalism” every bit as loudly as she had previously preached a simple-minded partisan “conservatism” so that when the revolution comes, nobody will be able to accuse her of having said “let them eat cake”.  So I’m not surprised that the majority of articles on her website, Huffington Post, which are not dedicated to straightforward reporting or empty-headed celebrity gossip consist partially or completely of childish partisan name-calling.  And given that “sex trafficking” is the current politically correct moral panic, I am also unsurprised when her website panders to it in furtherance of her transparent efforts to stay on the good side of the Great Unwashed, despite the fact that an educated person should demand facts and a woman who has profited by male associations as handsomely as she has should be a bit more sympathetic to her sisters who do the same thing on a smaller scale.

What I don’t expect, however, is to see stupid, asinine, insulting political stereotypes combined with stupid, asinine, insulting sex worker stereotypes into an article so stupid and asinine that it is bound to insult the intelligence of any reasonable reader…though not (judging by the replies) that of the HuffPo commentariat.  The offending exercise appeared on September 1st:

Following an extensive remodel, the Penthouse Club in Tampa, Fla., is finally ready for next summer’s Republican National Convention.  Club operator DeWayne Levesque has installed two secluded VIP sections, which he hopes will help his club attract a bigger share of the 50,000 visitors expected to descend upon the city on Aug. 27…another strip club owner, Joe Redner, said he has high hopes for what the convention means for business at his all-nude club, Mons Venus.  “I’m guessing we’ll make five times as much in a night as we usually do,” Redner told HuffPost.  “Republicans got plenty of money.  They take it all from poor people,” he said.  Redner said he thinks many convention visitors will be in the market for a lap dance, but newly-released academic research suggests that some will be interested in the darker elements of Tampa’s adult scene, too — sex for sale…

Those who clicked on the embedded link may recognize this “research”; it’s the Cunningham and Kendall foolishness I dissected in my column of June 26th, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of this article.

…Another adults-only perk for conventioneers are scheduled appearances at clubs by well-known female adult film stars.  Agent Brian Gross, who represents actresses Joanna Angel, Ryan Keely and Alexis Ford told HuffPost that “large events … give big name adult stars who dance on the circuit a great opportunity to get in front of a large crowd for their on-stage performances”…X-rated starlets also offer the clubs a competitive advantage, which is critical in an industry that Redner said has been hard hit by the Great Recession.  For those with cash to spend, however, the options abound.  An adult video producer who gave his name as “Brandon” said he plans to offer conventioneers an erotic limo service that includes the company of “models.”

In the first paragraph we were subjected to the old “rich guy kicking beggars” stereotype, and now we get the obligatory scare quotes around the word “models”.  We’re not judgmental, noooooooooo.  As for the idiotic and weaselly phrase “Great Recession”, I call your attention to this column by Emily Hemingway.  We’re in a depression, kiddies, not a recession; you aren’t allowed to include government spending in GDP calculations (since government doesn’t produce anything, it’s basically counting the same money twice).

The next section explains the linked study, repeating its fallacy (which I explained back in June) of equating an increase in escort ads with an increase in number of escorts.  Interestingly, one of the authors of the study actually talked to an escort:

Perhaps surprisingly, the one group of sex workers who didn’t benefit from the 2008 conventions were the high-priced escorts on Eros.com — the kind of women who have been linked to more than a few politicians in the past.  One of the authors of the study, Dr. Scott Cunningham, recalled a high-priced escort who explained the trouble with political conventions.  “She said to me, ‘Scott, there just isn’t enough disposable income at those political things.  But there’s a really great radiology convention up in Chicago, and I always go to that.'”

But did that help him to recognize that his premise was flawed?  Of course not!  I remind my readers of Maier’s Law:  “If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.”  Behold the law in action:

The reality, however, is that most of Tampa’s prostitutes won’t be jetting from one convention to the other.  Conversely, they could end up in the hands of a man like Charles Fox, who ran a brothel in the middle of South Tampa for nearly seven years until he was arrested last month.  According to police, Fox kept up to five women at a time enslaved in a small greenhouse using a combination of fear, drugs, alcohol and violence.  He sold them to men online, controlled their every move, and took 100 percent of their earnings.  Those who protested were tied up, raped, or worse.  For men like Charles Fox, political conventions are a great place to make money, said anti-trafficking advocate Andrea Powell.  “You can be sure a pimp knows when large numbers of men are going to be in the area,” she said in an interview with HuffPost, “and he’ll do whatever he can to get his piece of that business.”

By placing a lurid “sex trafficking” story next to a study the authors claim as credible (though as we’ve seen it isn’t), the credibility of bogus claims attached to that story are enhanced.  Note also the shell game:  a professional escort says there’s no enormous boom from political conventions (just like there isn’t from sporting events, and for similar reasons), and a prohibitionist makes the opposite claim; guess which statement the rest of the article is built on?

Powell is a co-founder of the Fair Fund, which helps rescue trafficked young women, and she said there is absolutely no way for a potential customer to know whether a prostitute has been trafficked.  “This concept that you can differentiate between willing sex work and trafficking is really complicated, because sex work fuels trafficking, and there’s so much money involved,” she said.  “Consider that one girl can have sex with 15 men in a night, at $100 an hour.  This means she’s producing $35,000-$40,000 a month for whoever owns her.”

The independent escorts who make up over 60% of the American market don’t support “sex trafficking” mythology, so in only a few paragraphs the article descends from at least the pretense of objectivity into the Gorean fantasy so beloved of moralists, man-hating neofeminists and male trafficking fetishists with fragile egos. Note that the standard scare number has increased from 10 clients a night to 15, so as to generate bigger bogus income figures, and it only gets worse from there; the rest of the article consists of a farrago of police ignorance about “keeping an eye on Craigs list [sic],” false claims about both that site and Backpage, moralistic pouting about the defeat of the foredoomed “pimping” lawsuit against the latter and the language of escort ads, and the typical ignorant pretense that until recently most whores were streetwalkers.

Obviously, Arianna Huffington herself doesn’t read over every article before it’s posted, but she sets the editorial policies so she’s still responsible.  I recently asked whether Huffington Post was trying to balance its disgusting pandering to trafficking fetishists by allowing Ronald Weitzer to debunk fanatics’ claims, but that clearly isn’t the case; obviously Huffington doesn’t care how many sex workers she has to throw under the bus in order to protect her own reputation among the hoi-polloi by catering to the current fashionable delusions about us.

One Year Ago Today

The Yellow Rose of Texas” is the story of Emily Morgan, who though she was not strictly a whore used her sexuality to change the course of history and thereby became a legend.

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