Archive for September 13th, 2012

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  –  Matthew 23:27-28

Though most of the news articles I encounter can be handled in a link and a few words in a “That Was the Week That Was” column, some are so rich in content and implication that they demand an entire post to themselves.  This recent item from the Arizona Republic was clearly motivated by a desire to smear its competitor, the Village Voice-owned Phoenix New Times, but that’s just the beginning of the issues here; keep in mind that Phoenix is not only home to the Republic and Village Voice Media, but also to the most corrupt and tyrannical sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio, and that the cops quoted in this story (who claim to be so very concerned with the “victimization” of women) work for a department which routinely ignored rape and child molestation cases (at least 432 of them in all).  One year ago today I advised the attorneys general of 44 states (including Arizona) to get the beams out of their own eyes before attempting to get the mote out of Backpage’s; today I have similar advice for the scribes of the Republic and the Pharisees infesting both the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Arizona State University:

Nearly 80 percent of the ads posted on the adult-services section of the classified website Backpage.com are for prostitutes, according to an Arizona State University research project…the research project drew on the expertise of law-enforcement officers to identify prostitution ads based on certain commonly used words and phrases and to identify minors based on factors including the girls’ development…offering the first detailed glimpse at content on the classified site that has spawned critics around the country who accuse the site’s parent company, Village Voice Media, of Phoenix, of profiting off prostitution ads and exploiting women and young girls…

As soon as you stop laughing at the moronic conceit that cops who are supposedly “expert” in sniffing out hooker ads could only find 80% of them in a section made up of nothing else, you may want to acquaint yourself with my essay on a similar “study” from the commercial con artists at the Schapiro Group.  Nutshell version:  how could the “researchers” be sure the pictures were even of the advertiser, much less current, much less underage?  This is nothing but wild guessing combined with wishful thinking and the usual cop pretense at “professionalism”.  Oh, and speaking of professionalism:

…The researchers reported 88 girls to Phoenix police who they believed to be under the age of 18.  Phoenix police said they rescued three of the girls though at least one has since been featured on the site…

Those of you who are unfamiliar with the ethics of social studies may not see the problem here:  reporting experimental subjects to the police is such a gross ethical violation it could potentially result in serious consequences for the offending academics if they actually belonged to a professional organization or were subject to a proper ethics board.  Obviously they must not be, which in turn raises questions about their methodology and procedures.

Law-enforcement officers from around the country routinely monitor the site to gather information about the prostitutes who advertise there, along with their pimps and customers…

Because everyone knows that all whores have pimps, and we write about them (and our customers) right there in our ads for all to see.

…The ASU research reinforced the Phoenix vice squad’s belief that the Valley is a hub for prostitution, whether the women and girls are full-time Arizona residents or operating on a circuit rotating among cities in the Southwest…

News flash:  All cities are “hubs” for prostitution for the same reason they’re “hubs” for every kind of business, namely higher customer concentration.  Does the Phoenix vice squad think newspaper readers are so stupid they can’t comprehend that, or is it just that they’re that stupid?

“It illustrates the scope of the problem here in Phoenix,” said Lt. Jim Gallagher, who oversees a unit that attempts to treat prostitutes as trafficking victims while targeting the men and women who control them.  “It confirmed a lot of what we already knew…”

Because if the only tool you have is a hammer

…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, the ASU professor in the School of Social Work who spearheaded the study, said she wants to expand the research to other cities in the hopes of better understanding the role of Internet advertising in prostitution and human trafficking.

Of course, she could talk to sex workers about it, but that A) would require de-conflating prostitution and “trafficking”, and B) wouldn’t be nearly as lucrative.

…The ASU researchers, who received some training from Phoenix police on how to identify minors and what code words and acronyms might signal prostitution ads, said none of the minors they flagged were spotted by Backpage…

This is the most outrageous absurdity in the entire absurd article.  Because they were “trained” by the crack experts in the Phoenix police department who don’t even know that Backpage girls often use other people’s pictures, clearly they MUST be 100% accurate in magically discerning which girls are underage just by looking at their ads, and therefore Backpage’s methods must be ineffectual.  Seriously, what are these “researchers” smoking?  And does this reporter possess even the most rudimentary critical thinking skills?  Furthermore, did no editor stop to consider that since the owners of Village Voice Media are suing the sheriff’s office for conspiracy, false arrest and gross civil rights violations, that maybe employees of that department might be just a teensy bit biased against them?  Submitted for your approval:  in a fully-developed fascist state it isn’t necessary for the government to censor the media or ensure academic cooperation via threats of repression, because those institutions are more than willing to violate every standard of professional ethics in their eagerness to assist in the dissemination of propaganda.

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