Archive for October 10th, 2011

The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true.  It is the chief occupation of mankind.  –  H.L. Mencken

When a person is so narcissistically absorbed in his own ideas or beliefs that he is totally oblivious to reality, we say that he “has his head up his own arse.”  But for some people, this expression is hardly strong enough; they pursue their own solipsistic interpretation of reality so aggressively and persistently as to actually undo whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish.  In my late teens I coined the expression “marching up his own arse” to describe such a person, and it was the first thing I thought of when I read these three news items.  The first one is from the September 17th Las Vegas Sun:

Christopher Baughman is a member of…the unit within vice that investigates crimes related to human trafficking and prostitution.  He’s seen more than his fair share of gritty crime scenes and broken lives, some of which he’s documented in his new book, “Off the Street”…[Baughman says] “these guys are psychopaths.  They have a whole lot to lose, and they are not stupid.  These aren’t guys chasing down women in an alley for $10.  We are talking about people making a ton of money…Early in [the] book, [I describe] a pimp pulling in a million dollars a year through only two women…and a million dollars can buy a very good defense attorney.  If our team doesn’t cross every single T, we could lose that case…We have to do whatever it takes…trafficking and pimping are bigger issues in Las Vegas than anywhere else…You can hide in plain sight here.  Where else can a 22-year-old drive down the street in a Maserati and nobody pays attention?  We’ve sort of opened the door for a lot of bad people to come here…[He adds]…When people are talking about prostitution and victims of trafficking, guys use a lot of…derogatory terms.  Officers do it, too…All that does is reinforce the lies the traffickers tell them, like that police don’t give a damn…

One would think that Las Vegas (where the evidence that legalization works better than criminalization is literally a few miles away, and where the independence of the vast majority of escorts should be obvious to anyone not hopelessly lost in the nether regions of his own alimentary canal) would be the last place in America where trafficking mythology and puerile “pimps and hos” masturbatory fantasies would find a receptive audience.  But that grossly underestimates the dogged persistence with which some people promenade into their own rectal cavities.  I literally laughed out loud at this pompous twit’s declaration that he knew of a “pimp” making a million dollars a year from two women; while it’s certainly possible for a busy and dedicated escort to make $500,000 in a year in Las Vegas, a woman who’s capable of that isn’t going to turn it all over to some man.  Sorry, Chris; you’ll have to do the sigmoid strut alone because no hooker with a particle of self-respect is going to follow you.

It’s understandable that Cheesehead cops might be a bit less cosmopolitan than their Sin City brethren, but the Kafkaesque notion that one can stop an already-illegal activity merely by requiring a license for it is so wholly ludicrous that only a dedicated colonic processionary could fail to see the absurdity of it.  This story comes to us from the September 18th LaCrosse Tribune:

…an ordinance being considered by city officials…[in LaCrosse, Wisconsin] would require escorts, dancers and some kinds of massage practitioners to obtain licenses for a fee.  Police contend the license could deter prostitution while generating revenue for a cash-strapped city.  “The city requires cab drivers and bartenders to obtain a license,” La Crosse Police Assistant Chief Rob Abraham said.  “It seems reasonable we should regulate this industry also”…other Wisconsin municipalities [already] require a license for anyone who accompanies someone for a fee…[or offers] private dances and massages.  Police want one thing to be clear:  The ordinance won’t legalize prostitution.  Anyone exchanging sex for money faces criminal charges.

Escorts and dancers advertising work in La Crosse…teeter on prostitution.  They offer “pleasure” and “full body pampering” with semi-nude photographs…“This type of activity sometimes tries to guise as prostitution,” Abraham said.  “We know through informants or tips these escorts aren’t doing legal escort activity.”  But proving a prostitution deal can be tricky.  Proving someone doesn’t have a license isn’t.  “As soon as they open the door, they’re in violation,” said Jim Adlam, a police captain in Brookfield, a southeastern Wisconsin city that enacted an escort-license ordinance in 1991…

Similar ordinances elsewhere require applicants to submit fingerprints and photographs and pass a criminal history background check.  No one has ever applied for the license, which requires a hefty $250 fee, since Brookfield passed the ordinance two decades ago, according to the city clerk’s office.  But police there each year cite about 10 unlicensed escorts, most nabbed during stings…“I tell them, ‘You’ve been given an unbelievable deal in life.  This is really prostitution,’” Brookfield Municipal Judge Jeffrey Warchol said…“We wish people would follow the ordinance,” Waukesha County Sheriff’s Lt. Neil Dussault said.  “But people choose to go around the system because they know deep down what they’re doing is wrong.”

I’m not sure whether these officials are technically marching up their own arses; it seems more like they’re all marching up each others’ arses in a colossal daisy chain of rump-tramping.  If they don’t require a license to go on dates, they’re right back where they started from because the cases are based on police testilying whether the charge is “prostitution” or “escorting without a license”.  But that’s the essence of advancing up one’s own rear; the profound confusion which results is evident in the quotes from the “authorities” in this story.  One says that strippers and escorts disguise their work as prostitution (the mind boggles), another tells whores that their work is “really prostitution” as though he believes they don’t know, and Solomon Lawhead at the end there pronounces that women don’t submit their fingerprints and real names so they can be harassed, persecuted and framed at will “because they know deep down what they’re doing is wrong.”  Obviously, the concepts of “common sense” and “self-preservation” don’t exist in his universe.  Hup, two, three, four…

I can’t tell whether the researcher in this September 20th story from The Local is traipsing up his own bum, but the prosecutor is certainly on an auto-anal expedition:

Prostitutes from Hungary are increasingly being sent to work in…Zurich, but they don’t see themselves as victims of trafficking, according to…Sascha Finger, a geographer…at the University of Bern…In most cases, the women were pushed onto the street by brothers, uncles, cousins or even husbands:  “The women therefore don’t see themselves as human trafficking victims”…Most of [them] are Roma, a nomadic ethnic group often existing on the fringes of Hungarian society.  “The women are sent to Switzerland by their families to earn hard cash to feed an extended family of up to 13 people, and often they have their own children,” he said…the women are also faced with serious problems in Switzerland.  They generally don’t speak German and are often at the mercy of punters who occasionally fail to pay…they…are…often afraid of the police, their customers, and the challenges posed by living in Switzerland.  “They feel illegal even though they are not doing anything illegal.“

Zurich prosecutor Silvia Steiner is also aware of the problems Hungarian prostitutes face in Switzerland.  “The dilemma for me is that the women deny they are victims of human trafficking“…Steiner has previously managed to secure convictions…in the few cases she has brought to court, but in general the women refuse to push for an indictment.  “Their fear of the perpetrators and their clans in Hungary is too great,“ she said.

So if a Swiss woman’s family pushes her to get an office job, is it “human trafficking”?  What about if she “perpetrates” travel to Germany to get that job?  What if a Hungarian woman is pushed by her family to work in a bank in Zurich?  Does a job only count as “trafficking” if it involves sex?  Does Ms. Steiner even consider the fact that among the Gypsies (the traditional name for the Roma) travelling is a way of life?  Maybe they “deny they are victims of human trafficking” because they aren’t, and maybe the reason they’re afraid of the police and “feel illegal even though they are not doing anything illegal“ is because lawheads like Steiner keep trying to force them to betray their families for the sake of some vague political concept.  But don’t expect her to recognize that; like the people who spout the amazingly stupid statements featured in my column of one year ago today, she’s far too busy marching up her own arse to pay any attention to reality.

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