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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Americans have collectively become some of the most submissive, spineless peasants upon the face of the Earth.  –  “Dependence Day

In practically every essay for this occasion, and every one for November 1st and 5th, and in innumerable other essays, tweets and statements, I have reminded my readers that every single thing in the Cosmos is mortal, and will pass away in its time.  Empires rise, thrive, decline, and fall, to be replaced by younger ones which then decline and fall in their time.  The history books are littered with their names, and even before Man learned to write there were other, elder realms (albeit of smaller size), stretching back into the mists of prehistory; there may have even been civilizations before the present Age of Apes which rose, fell, and eventually faded even from the hazy glass of mythology, leaving not a rack behind.  Likewise, the future will be riddled with empires, in the short-term developing from countries whose names are familiar to us, then, further into tomorrow, from nations on worlds yet unsettled circling nameless stars in constellations invisible from the Earth.  Each will rise and fall in its turn, crumbling into dust and passing first into memory, then legend, and eventually beyond the horizon of sentient knowledge.  The wheel turns inexorably, and all there is to say about it has already been said countless times; there is, I think, little point in saying it again, so this year I’ll instead content myself with reminding y’all of everything I’ve previously said on previous anniversaries of the birth of this particular collapsing empire.

The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was.  –  “Post-Imperial

Modern rulers claim “legitimacy” by a long series of Byzantine pretenses and procedures no more moral, just or rational than “Divine Right of Kings” was, then claim that their subjects somehow agreed to obey due to something called a “social contract” by virtue of being born within a particular set of imaginary lines the rulers drew on a map.  –  “Western Illiberalism

The moribund American Empire will produce no more good in the world except by its collapse and replacement, and though I grieve the innocent blood which will be spilled, it isn’t like US policies aren’t spilling rivers of innocent blood right now.  –  “It Can’t Come Soon Enough

I’ve come to view the present as an historical tableau, a set of events that has already happened, which I observe unfolding as though I were a time traveler from a future age.  –  “Divided We Stand

The idea that vast social resources should be devoted to warring upon the country’s own citizenry in order to stop them from consensual activities that the rulers disapprove of is a distinctly American form of collective madness, and the powerful influence American culture has exerted on the world for the past century…is the only reason it has become at all prevalent in the rest of the world.  –  “Successor

Police state[s employ]…a bloated police force whose powers are limited only by the imaginations of officials and whose members are able to inflict violence upon anyone they choose without any consequences whatsoever or recourse of any kind for the victims.  –  “My Police State, ‘Tis of Thee

It is insulting to the Founders’ memory to associate any patriotic feelings you have for the memory of the nation they created with the repressive fascist police state that now occupies its territory.  – “The Spirit of ’76

Though “freedom” is still a “worship word” in this country, observing the ovine obsequiousness with which Americans submit to looting, brutality, sexual molestation and demands of literal obeisance to petty officials leads me to the unavoidable conclusion that they have…little understanding of its meaning.  –  “The Fourth of July

The police have become…a vast, decentralized, undisciplined army which is not subject to any law, nor are individual cops held responsible for any crimes they commit.  –  “Independence Day

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[The purpose of the] stilted, imprecise…verbiage found in…police [reports]…is…to exculpate the police from any blame.  –  Thomas Nolan

All-Purpose Excuse

Anything can be “trafficking” if you use your imagination:

Egyptian police…arrested a Tiktok star who [w]as…sentenced [in absentia] to 10 years imprisonment for her posts on social media.  Haneen Hossam, a 20-year-old Cairo University student…was sentenced…along…[with] four others…for encouraging women to share videos in exchange for money, which Egyptian authorities [fantasize is] human trafficking…She was first convicted [last] July…of sharing “indecent” photos and videos [ie dancing fully clothed] with her 1 million Instagram followers…the charges were overturned on appeal in January a[fter] the five [had been locked in a filthy cage for]…eight months…But…prosecutors [wanted to destroy their lives, so they] introduced new charges of human trafficking…the other four [were “only” condemned]…to…six years…

Under Duress (#824) 

I find it mind-boggling that most people are surprised to find out that cops are habitual liars:

When Thomas Nolan was a…Boston P[ig]…he…routinely advise[d]…subordinates to incorporate…buzzwords in their reports to frame themselves as the hero and the suspect – who might have been injured or killed – out as the aggressor.  Those…reports…were chock-full of words like “resist,” “overcome,” “vigorous,” “violent,” “subdue,” “fear,”and “attack”…even if they were exaggerations.  Now an associate professor of sociology…Nolan regrets taking part in…the systemic deception that is police report writing…it bolsters a police culture of misconduct, where [cops] are trained and socialized to believe they’re above the law…

I Spy (#1006)

They won’t stop until privacy of any kind is absolutely impossible:

…instructions for the iPhone [brea]king tech GrayKey obtained by Motherboard provide more insight into the capabilities of the device…GrayKey, made by Austin-based Grayshift, is designed to [brea]k [into] modern iOS devices and [steal] their contents.  iOS devices are encrypted by default, meaning someone needs to have, or guess, the device’s passcode to access…the data stored on it.  iOS devices protect themselves from brute force attacks…but GrayKey can successfully brute force iOS devices in some cases.  The company is constantly in a cat-and-mouse game with Apple, which tries to fix security issues that GrayKey [exploits.  Cop shops]…around the country have bought GrayKey units

Elephant in the Parlor (#1101)

Even if this wasn’t a commercial transaction, it’s certainly adjacent:

Zack Weiner, 26, a City Council candidate running in Manhattan, [w]as…ou…an…anonymous [Twitter user who] posted…video [of]…Weiner…[in session with a domme]…at Parthenon studio…known [as a] high-quality BDSM dungeon…Weiner confirmed it was him in the video and said the footage was made about 18 months ago with a former girlfriend he met during a Halloween party in 2019.  “I didn’t want anyone to see that, but…I am not ashamed of the private video…Like many young people, I have grown into a world where some of our most private moments have been documented online…I am a proud BDSMer.  I like BDSM activity,” Weiner [said]…He refused to name the woman in the video and [called releasing the video without permission of either participant]…“a violation of trust”…

In a just world, this would help his campaign rather than hurting it; honesty is a vanishingly-rare trait in politicians.

To Molest and Rape (#1110)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

Little Rock police arrested a [university cop named]…Gregory Ray McKinney[, who]  is being charged with two counts of possession of child pornography…

Property of the State (#1133) 

Still another abomination from Alabama:

An Alabama [woman] battling chronic back pain faces felony charges for refilling her prescription…Kim Blalock had back problems before she became pregnant.  She suffered from arthritis and degenerative disc disease [aggravated by]…surgical complications and a car accident the year before her pregnancy…Blalock, a married stay-at-home mother of six, managed her condition under the care of a local orthopedist…[who] prescribed hydrocodone, one of the most common medications for patients with chronic pain…Four years [later] she…became pregnant with her youngest son and stopped her medication…[but] the pain became unbearable in the last six weeks before her due date, so she refilled her prescription.  When Blalock delivered, she told her obstetrician about the hydrocodone…[child “protection” witch-hunters] closed the case after Blalock showed them the prescription bottle and allowed a [bean-count]er to count the pills.  But that didn’t satisfy [local pigs and prosecutors, who]…charged Blalock with prescription fraud for not telling her orthopedist she was pregnant…[even though politician]s amended the law [in 2016] to protect mothers who took drugs prescribed by doctors…

Quiet Genocide (#1138)

Naturally; the “missing” children were abducted by the government to give to childless Han couples:

Over the past two years, the Chinese authorities have repeatedly promised to help trace any children reported to be missing in Xinjiang, to pr[etend] that they haven’t been forcibly separated from their parents. Those promises have not been met…China’s then-ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming…denied that China’s policies in…Xinjiang [included]…large-scale separation of children from their parents [despite ample evidence that this is the case]…

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Upgrade

Some of you may have noticed that the address of this blog has changed; it’s now my own domain instead of a WordPress subdomain.  I’ve owned the domain for a while, but it used to point toward my escort site (whose address is subtly different), and now it points here.  It’s probably a move I should’ve made six or seven years ago, but some of you may have also noticed that I’m pathologically change-averse and rarely do anything like that unless I’m forced to.  Well, I was finally forced to.  Like most internet companies, WordPress employs a small army of programmers, and like most US employers it demands they stay busy; the result is a steady trickle of “improvements” that aren’t.  For several years now, the company has been trying to push its new “block editor”; I took one look and realized it was far less useful than the so-called “classic” editor (take a look at some sample one-star reviews, which outnumber all other reviews of the block editor by a factor of > 2 to 1).  But they kept pushing it, and sometime last year changed the site to default to it.  The “classic” editor was still available, but harder to get to, so I had to create several workarounds to keep going.  Then on the morning of March 17th, I awoke to discover that the company had removed the “classic” editor entirely; Google helped me discover that it was now only availble as a plugin, and plugins only work on upgraded sites, so here we are.  The change introduced some back-end problems (they only affected my view of the site, not readers’) which were solved with the help of WordPress tech support, and one gremlin seemed to have escaped into my android phone via Chrome and had to be exterminated separately.  But as of this writing, things seem fully functional again.

Other than the new, shorter address, another change is coming:  after all these years, I’m going to start taking advertising.  Since I’m now semi-retired and I don’t have nearly as much subscription income as I’d like, I definitely need to monetize the tremendous amount of work I’ve put into this site for over a decade and continue to put in on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean I’m throwing all of my standards out the window; I don’t like blinking, flashing, jumping, moving, distracting or otherwise annoying ads on other sites and I’m not going to allow them on mine if I can help it (that goes double for popups).  But since I’m not at all familiar with how the sytem works, it’s possible that such ads may get in without my permission via whatever delivery system I use, so it’s important y’all let me know if something like that appears (I may add a “report annoying ad” button or the like).  And if anyone wants to buy an ad from me, obviously we can talk.  The change will probably be slow as I feel things out and decide exactly what works for me, but I thought it only fair to let y’all know that it’s on the way.

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In the late Oughts, while we were building our house in Oklahoma, I received a phone call from a scientist who worked in wildlife conservation for the state.  He explained that a gas pipeline was going through our neighbors’ land; I already knew this because I had previously rejected the company’s offer to put it through mine, because the amount of compensation was inadequate to make up for having a 12-meter-wide path of destruction cut through my property.  The size of the right-of-way was the reason for the call; it seems our part of the state was one of the most important habitats for an endangered species of giant burying beetle, and this scientists’ job was to put out bait to draw the beetles out of the construction zone.  What he wanted was permission to come onto my land to throw out chicken leg quarters so as to attract the beetles, which bury small carrion (such as dead birds and squirrels) to lay their eggs in so the larvae have a food source.  I readily agreed, not merely because it was interesting, but also because I figured the more endangered species on my property, the more protection I’d have against gas companies trying to force their way in.  He didn’t have much luck with the bait, but mere hours after his final visit I happened to look down into the hollow where our water cutoff valve lay and saw a dozen of the critters, apparently unable to crawl or fly out of the piece of PVC pipe that kept the sides of the hole from collapsing.  So I dutifully called him to report them; I told him I wasn’t afraid to touch them, and could take them out one by one if he wanted.  He explained that since they were endangered, it was illegal for me to even touch them, and he asked me to put in a small slat of wood so they could crawl out (which they quickly did, each spreading its wings and flying off when it reached the top of the stick).

I thought about this last week because I saw a conversation on Twitter about the Fermi Paradox, with the participants expressing their opinions for why we’ve never seen any evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations.  One not-unusual suggestion is that some authority (a galactic empire or whatever) has declared us off-limits to contact, but that generally raises the objection that it’s egotistical for us to believe we’re worthy of that kind of protection.  But if intelligent aliens are at all like us, that might not matter.  Now, I’m not talking about a Star Trek-type situation in which most civilizations look like humans in makeup and everybody is of roughly the same general level of technology; I’m not even proposing a species like the one in my story “Millennium“, whose attitude toward less-advanced races is…let’s just say far too human-like for comfort.  All I’m suggesting is that if intelligence is rare, advanced spacefaring civilizations might consider all of it valuable, and could conceivably think of any intelligent species confined to a single habitat as “endangered”.  Most Oklahomans have probably never even noticed burying beetles, and few of those who know about them probably give a damn whether they go extinct or not; however, our governments have established laws to protect all endangered species, no matter how insignificant or unpopular to the general public.  They are, in fact, willing to expend considerable effort and resources to protecting such species, regardless of whether those species are relatively interesting or important in any way.  In other words, it might not be at all egotistical to imagine humans as a “protected species” to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization; they may not care about us specifically, but rather their own principles.  In other words, they may treat all young civilizations that way, even those they perceive as creepy little carrion-eating insects.

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Give this man his money.  –  Judge Christine Underwood

Profit from Panic 

A pandemic can’t stop opportunists from wringing every penny they can from this hysteria before it implodes completely:

The B.E. A S.H.E.R.O. Foundation…hosted its 6th annual Awareness Gala, themed “Rising from the Ashes.” The event centered on raising…funds for [the organizers by exploiting the moral panic around]…sex trafficking…Because of pandemic health guidelines, guests were invited to host in-home parties with only their close circles, family or solo.  SHERO Founder Kimberly Miles hosted the online event from the Stirling Club, with special appearances from Terry Fator, Clint Holmes, Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers and more…

Disaster (#949)

Australia is joining the US in trying to destroy the internet:

If Australia genuinely wants to minimise online harm, we need to have more nuanced narratives than “won’t somebody please think of the children”.  The federal government’s Online Safety Bill…[will] impede upon our digital rights, harm vulnerable groups, and c[onstrict] the way the majority of Australians experience the internet…part [of the scheme] gives the eSafety Commissioner expanded “take-down powers”…[to] order the removal of…any sexual content…or content that is “unsuitable for a minor to see”…Sex workers, pornography creators…sex-positive educators and activists are just some who will struggle to work online due to the scheme.  As experience of the controversial SESTA/FOSTA laws in the US…has shown, crackdowns such as these incentivise online platforms to remove or censor sexual content altogether to avoid penalty…this forces sex workers offline and often into unsafe working environments…

A Moral Cancer (#1013)

Crypto-moralists won’t hesitate to add nationalism to “health” rhetoric to advance their anti-pleasure agenda:

British stores could be flooded with “dangerous” bacon and ham from the US, marketed under misleading labels, as the result of a transatlantic trade deal, says the author of a new book based on [statistical illiteracy and militant veganism]…The meat has been cured with nitrites extracted from vegetables, a practice not permitted by the European Commission because of evidence that it [marginally] increases the [very small] risk of bowel cancer.  But it is allowed in the US, where the product is often labelled as “all natural”…

Robocops

Court declares that cops are too stupid and evil to understand that intentionally burning an innocent person alive is wrong:

…On July 10, 2017, [Gabriel Eduardo] Olivas’ son called 911 to report that his father was threatening to kill himself…[responding cops] found Olivas “leaning against a wall and holding a red gas can”…[one cop] shouted…”If we tase him, he is going to light on fire!”…Olivas [had] poured gasoline over himself…[but pig Jeremias] Guadarrama “fired his taser at the gasoline-soaked man, causing him to burst into flames…The fire spread from Olivas to the walls of the bedroom, and the house eventually burned to the ground”…Olivas…died…the [family]…sued…and…the…court [ruled]…it…”reasonable”…[to set off high-voltage electrical] sparks that could easily ignite gasoline…after a[nother cop] had [already] emphasized it…the 5th Circuit has forthrightly declared that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit police from firing Tasers at a suicidal, gasoline-drenched man…

The Last Shall Be First (#1078)

Anti-trans hysteria has shifted from toilets to high-school sports:

A proposed bill introduced in…Georgia…called for banning transgender girls from participating in [organized] sports…a similarly-written law in Idaho…is currently blocked by injunction from a federal court.  So another proposal was introduced…that went even further.  House Bill 372 would redefine gender as “a person’s biological sex at birth” in state law, require state-funded schools and associations to ban participants they deem not “biologically” male or female from sports, and calls for a panel to examine information about the genitalia or chromosomes of any [prospective] participant who petitions otherwise…

I must point out that contrary to some online statements about this buffoonery, it does not call for the panel to inspect students’ genitalia, only “information about” them (presumably derived from a medical exam).  But it’s still akin to the creepy pretense that for students to voluntarily allow other people to examine their genitalia for the purpose of pleasure is a “crime”, but for the same students to be forced by law to allow strangers to examine their genitalia for the purpose of bigotry is “protection”.

The Next Target (#1099)

One day, “professional ‘survivor'” will no longer be a lucrative job:

…[Morality in Media] filed a…[law]suit in Birmingham, Alabama against Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek, [exploiting the claims] of two women who alleged illegal videos of themselves were uploaded to the platform by third-party users…The lawsuit alleges that MindGeek “conspired, facilitated and financially benefited, from sex trafficking ventures between [themselves] and others”…

A Broker in Pillage (#1101)

Nobody will be safe until this odious, contemptible practice is recognized as unconstitutional:

A district court judge in North Carolina is threatening to jail one town’s officials if they don’t return nearly $17,000 in cash they s[tole from] a man’s rental car…Jermaine Sanders was staying at a hotel in…November when he left his room and found police [ransack]ing his car.  Police [claimed] they found half an ounce of marijuana and $16,761 in cash.  They s[tole] both…[and] sent the cash to…CBP [in order to circumvent state restrictions on such robbery].  When Sanders lawyered up…Mooresville [bureaucrats] responded that [they were] no longer in possession of the cash…[Judge Christine] Underwood…found the city in contempt of her order [to refund the money] and…[gave] them seven business days to comply.  She told the city’s attorney…that she was not afraid to jail town commissioners, the police chief, or anybody else responsible for keeping Sanders from getting his money back…

Yet most courts still refuse to admit that this is about nothing other than profit:

Civil asset forfeiture…allows police to s[teal] property they [pretend] is connected to crime without arresting…the owner…the practice demolishes due process and undermines property rights, giving cops a license to steal from innocent people who often lack the resources to resist…[pushers] of [the scheme pretend] it deters and incapacitates drug traffickers…[but] in a new study published by the Institute for Justice, Seattle University economist Brian Kelly…analyzed data from five states that use forfeiture extensively:  Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.  He reports no statistically significant relationship between increased forfeiture revenue and lower drug use rates or higher crime clearance rates.  To the contrary, Kelly found that clearance rates for violent crimes tend to fall as forfeiture revenue rises…[because] the lure of…money diverts law enforcement resources from predatory crimes to drug offenses…

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How is it that the US mass media can simultaneously fret about the fraction of people who are obese, and proclaim foods or activities that promote a lower body mass to be “healthy”, yet simultaneously claim that, for women at least, obesity is “healthy”?  It’s because the word “healthy” is not, and has not been for decades, a semantically neutral one.  “Healthy” is one of the modern signifiers of moral purity, and “unhealthy” = “sinful” (as openly proclaimed on the packaging of both “decadent” and “guilt-free” desserts).  So even though obesity is objectively sub-optimal for “wellness” by medical standards, using that word in front of the Great Unwashed signifies a moral judgment on the overweight person.  In order to conform to the current rules of “wokeness”, media must proclaim that obesity is “healthy” when what they actually mean is, “Obese people are not lesser humans, and it isn’t your job to shame them for being fat.  It’s their business, not yours”.  In the popular media, “wellness” isn’t an objective word but a declaration of moral fitness, a judgement on a person’s character.  It would certainly be a lot better for society as a whole to stop pretending that illness is due to divine retribution for an “unhealthy” (read: sinful) “lifestyle” (a word long used by crypto-moralists to judge others, especially queers and sex workers).  But given the considerable energy US culture has invested in that myth (cf preachers who blame hurricanes on same-sex marriage, and busybodies who cast shame on, or even call the cops on, people for visiting their friends against politicians’ “orders”), that’s unlikely to happen anytime before the collapse of the Empire.

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 [A Biden victory] is not a victory for sex workers.  –  Penelope Saunders

A False Dichotomy 

Cathy Reisenwitz on the dogma that sex without “enthusiastic consent” is rape:

…most of our choices in life…[a]re not straightforwardly coercive or cooperative, but somewhere in-between…This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that consent versus coercion isn’t a binary.  It’s a spectrum…On one end of the spectrum you have slavery and rape.  On the opposite end you have enthusiastic consent.  But most choices fall somewhere in the middle…When we say we are “forced” to make a choice, we mean that there’s no acceptable alternative.  We say we’ve been forced to do something if the alternative is death or jail.  When we say we’re “pressured” to make a choice, what we mean is there’s no appealing alternative.  We say we’ve been pressured to do something if the alternative is unpleasant or inconvenient.  The difference then between force and pressure is a difference of scope, not kind.  They’re both coercion, but are different levels of coercion…

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

While it’s not surprising to see male sex work increase during the pandemic, I’m extremely skeptical of claims, such as those in this story, that the clients are predominantly female.  Anti-queer stigma is much higher in India than in the US, so naturally male sex workers there are going to claim – as some did for decades in the US – that most of their clients are female in order to save face.  But as usual, the claims in this story don’t ring true, and the quotes from the interviewees only serve to underscore that.

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

…a…Seattle Police…detective…signed up for and used facial recognition app Clearview AI, which…i[s a] violation of the City of Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance…Nick Kartes…signed up for Clearview in September 2019 using his “@seattle.gov” work email address…he logged into the service over 30 times, as recently as April 22…the devices used to log into Detective Kartes’ account were connected to the City of Seattle network…This follows an established pattern, highlighted this summer, where Seattle police regularly flaunt the law…

But don’t worry, toothless local laws will definitely stop this!

Panopticon (#993)

Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops just keeps getting worse:

…While people buy Ring cameras and put them on their front door to keep their packages safe, police use them to build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods.  This…allows police departments to [shift] the cost of buying surveillance equipment…onto consumers by convincing them they need cameras to keep their property safe…[and] evades the natural reaction of fear and distrust that many people would have if they learned police were putting up dozens of cameras on their block…Now…police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program t[o convince]…Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to…police…footage [of] your…coming and going…your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street…can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock.  Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police[, plus all cops need do is ask and Amazon will grant warrantless access to your camera without your consent]…


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

Thailand’s government said…it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship…many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the shutting of a site in a country…which has a globally-known sex industry…A few dozen activists protested the block outside the digital ministry, holding banners saying “free Pornhub” and “reclaim Pornhub”…Internet research firm Top10VPN said it saw a spike in searches from Thailand for Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which help circumvent censorship, by 640%…after Pornhub was [censored]…

And India:

The Cyber Police agency of the Indian state of Maharashtra — the region that includes populous Mumbai — has formally accused several platforms of “transmitting sexually explicit and obscene content online”…[the sites include] Xvideos and Pornhub.  Inspector General of Police Yashasvi Yadav [made furtive movements in his pants while sharing his fantasy that]…”the actresses in these videos have been exploited, lured or compelled to perform the obscene acts. We will be treating the actresses as ‘victims’ and not ‘accused persons’”…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

Since costumed rapists are essentially immune to criminal law, civil law has to do:

A new lawsuit [has been] filed against [typical and representative] Louisville [cop] Brett Hankison…a…sexual predator…who…[has] willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently…[raped at least 10 women over the years and achieved recent notoriety for the murder] of…Breonna Taylor…LMPD has…fired Hankison for his role in the [murder, but ignored all the rape complaints]…nine o[f the] women who…Hankison [raped have made statements in the lawsuit, filed by Margo Borders, a lawyer he raped in 2018]…

(State) Violence Against Women

Two hardline prohibitionists at the top do not bode well for sex workers:

…Phoenix Calida…[of] SWOP-USA…says of a Biden win, “I see things getting worse for sex workers, actually.”  Calida’s assessment is due in part to Biden’s sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill…“‘Tough on crime,’ which Biden has really promoted his entire career, is really not helpful at all to sex workers…Biden is like, ‘Let’s not defund the police, let’s give them more money!’”  Advocates’ concerns around…Kamala Harris, are both more numerous and concrete.  “You couldn’t get a candidate with a worse record on sex work,” says [Penelope] Saunders of [Best Practices Policy Project].  In 2008, Harris called San Francisco’s Proposition K—an attempt at halting the enforcement of laws against prostitution—“completely ridiculous.”  Harris also infamously pursued the shutdown of Backpage and the prosecution of the site’s owners despite warnings that shuttering the site would put sex workers in greater danger and make it harder to investigate sex trafficking cases. (It did.)  She also helped develop the devastating SESTA/FOSTA, specifically as a means of targeting Backpage…[and supports]…the EARN IT Act, a bill…which threatens sex workers’ ability to use encrypted messaging services…as well as free speech online…opponents of the bill…are calling it “SESTA/FOSTA 2.0.”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

Compare the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Democrats in this article to attack someone closely associated with Trump, to the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Republicans just a month earlier to attack someone closely associated with Biden, and then tell me again how they’re so different and why sex workers should trust either pack of fanatics:  “President Trump’s top campaign strategist, Jason Miller…admitted to hiring prostitutes and receiving sexual favors at multiple ‘Asian themed’ massage parlors, an industry known to have connections to sex trafficking rings…”  “Progressives” want sex workers to believe they’re on our side, but they go straight for the anti-whore slurs the second they think it will win them cheap points on the “other team”.

Social Distancing (#1084)

Prohibitionists don’t care who has to suffer to advance their twisted agenda:

India’s sex workers suffered a setback…following a U-turn by the country’s human rights body, which said [sex workers] should not be registered as workers or guaranteed financial aid from the government amid the fallout of COVID-19.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last month asked state governments to recognise sex workers as informal workers, which would have entitled them to benefits and aid from a $23 billion fund for India’s poor during the coronavirus pandemic…the watchdog’s non-binding advisory was hailed by [human rights experts]… as a boon for the rights of an estimated 800,000 sex workers across India, [but prohibitionists, led by the evil and deeply-deranged Sunitha Krishnan, worked to intimidate the commission by issuing veiled threats of expensive and troublesome legal complaints based in bad “]sex trafficking[” laws.  In response to these threats]…The NHRC…issued a new statement that said sex workers could not be registered officially or categorised as informal workers….[but] should instead be given help on “humanitarian grounds” during the pandemic…

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Though I’ve been a Trekkie since childhood, I had never seen all of Deep Space Nine until recently.  The reason is simple: the series premiered in January 1993 and was midway through its third season when my first husband left me without warning.  My life was thrown into turmoil and it took two years for me to get it straight again, during which time money was much too tight for the relative extravagance of cable TV.  So though I saw all of the first two seasons, half of the third, and occasional episodes (at friends’ houses or via borrowed videocassettes) of the fourth and fifth seasons, I got rather lost due to the complex story arcs and decided not to see any more individual episodes until I could rewatch the whole show from the beginning.  I gave Grace the complete series on DVD for Christmas about a decade ago, but still never got around to viewing it until this year, after I moved to Sunset as my primary residence.  As I watched, I soon found that I agree with many reviewers’ opinion that the series is the best of all the Star Trek sequel series; though it was a direct spinoff of The Next Generation I find it very much superior to its parent, not only because of its greater consistency, better writing, and relief from the pressure of being THE Star Trek show of its decade, but also because it discarded the moral oversimplification which (unfortunately) permeates most of The Next Generation in favor of a universe full of greys in which few characters were either moral paragons or cardboard villains.

This realistic portrayal of the ethical tangle that is real life was on full display in a 6th-season episode we watched a couple of weeks ago, “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night“.  In it, Major Kira Nerys discovers that her mother, whom she believed to have died in a concentration camp during her planet’s half-century-long occupation by the militaristic Cardassians, actually survived for seven years after the very young Nerys had last seen her…as a “comfort woman” claimed by the Cardassian governor, Gul Dukat.  At first, Kira (who started the series as a morally rigid, almost puritanical character, and only slowly grew to accept that real life rarely resembles such abstractions) refuses to believe that her sainted mother could have been guilty of collaboration horizontale, then as she explores the truth (with the help of a mysterious alien device which grants her visions of the past), she instead becomes terribly angry with her mother for literally sleeping with the enemy.  But as the vision goes on, she realizes that her mother’s position as the governor’s mistress not only resulted in better living conditions for herself, but also for her husband and children, who might otherwise have died in a labor camp.  By the end of the episode she has not forgiven her mother, but has come to accept that she did what she thought best for her family, just as Nerys herself had to make hard choices (including becoming a terrorist) in her own struggle to survive the occupation.

The episode is not a highly rated one; perhaps the topic is too uncomfortable for many viewers, especially in these neo-Victorian times.  But as a sex worker and hard-nosed pragmatist, I deeply appreciated the show’s willingness to recognize that sex work, even under duress, can almost never be fit into a pat narrative of villain and victim, and its repeated depiction (in this episode and many others) of war as a filthy business from which nobody emerges entirely clean.

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Haggling isn’t actually about the relative expense of a sex worker’s price; it’s a means of trying to circumvent her boundaries.  As I explained nine years ago in “Head Games“,

…[most] men who haggle can easily afford the girl’s price, they simply want to get her to back down from it in order to feel as though they’ve won a victory over her…men who have reviewed expensive escorts will still haggle with girls who charge half as much; this demonstrates that it’s not about the money but rather about getting the girl to accept a compromise.  More subtle types will accept an escort’s price, but will try to get her to compromise one of her other rules in some way; for example, if a girl has published hours they’ll try to get an appointment just before or just after those hours, or if she refuses same-day appointments they’ll try to get one.  A girl who only accepts certain forms of communication will be pushed for another form (for example, her personal phone number)…

Since the demise of the quickie ad sites in the last two years, we’ve seen another type of haggler become more common:  the guy who tries to avoid screening.  This kind of sleazebag is hardly new; every sex worker has dealt with men who seem to think their nervousness is more important than her safety.  These self-important schmucks love to pretend that outing clients is a real concern, despite the fact that

Every whore understands that it’s wrong to out clients; “about 20% of men see sex workers occasionally…yet we don’t see anything like 20% of men exposed as clients.  The fact that ignorant people believe the nonsensical claim that fewer than 15% of men have ever paid for sex tends to point toward the lifetime exposure rate as being even lower than that…”  And it isn’t only a matter of ethics; a whore who got caught outing clients would be destroying her own brand for good, so there are good practical as well as moral reasons for keeping our mouths shut about the famous men who end up between our legs…

Sometimes a request for screening information will provoke a torrent of abuse, clearly demonstrating why being alone with such a man would be a spectacularly bad idea.  But on other occasions, the wannabe client will try to convince the sex worker to eschew screening by insisting he’s a “nice guy”; appealing to her avarice by waving fantasy sums of money and/or promises of an “ongoing relationship” should she relent (a promise worth precisely as much as it cost him to make); or proposing she spend all the prep, travel, and social time to meet him in person to “see if we’re a good fit” (conveniently providing him with social time while demonstrating next to nothing about how he’ll behave in private).  I had one of these clods attempt all three with me in a five-text conversation last week; given that his last text was a flurry of insults, pomposity, and accusations of dishonesty and impersonation (“my guess is you’re…posing as an escort“), he unwittingly demonstrated, as such men generally do, that my decision not to see him was a wise one.

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This was written at the request of a sex worker who wanted to explain the business to someone close to her who objected to sex work and believed most sex workers were trafficked.  The writer is a well-known person who wishes to remain anonymous.

As part of my job, I have interacted with bankers, lawyers, doctors, government officials and diplomats of the highest professionalism.  So it is no exaggeration when I say that sex workers are among the hardest-working professionals I have ever met.  It takes great skill to be a successful sex worker; the physical act of sex is only a small part of the job.  You have to be a therapist and a mind-reader, anticipating your clients’ moods and needs.  You need to be an entrepreneur and a time-management specialist.  You need to always be on your game, because word of a bad experience quickly gets around; unlike most other jobs, you can’t keep screwing up or your clients will ultimately stop seeing you.  You also need to keep yourself in shape and pace yourself so you don’t burn out.  You’re often working by yourself, so you have to ensure you don’t get too isolated.  Most women get into sex work for the money, but who doesn’t seek the most money for any job?  This is one job where success leads to more success and even higher rates.  You don’t wait for a promotion; you promote yourself.

Despite lurid headlines about sex trafficking, there are relatively few examples of that in the United States.  Statistics show that virtually all sex workers in the United States are in the business because they want to be sex workers; even Asian massage parlors are filled with workers who want to be there.  (Occasionally you may read about a bust, but then the charges are quietly dropped later because prosecutors can’t prove the women were coerced.)

Here are examples of some of the sex workers I have been privileged to know:

  • A gifted PhD from an Ivy league University, with well-respected published papers under her name, who decided she could make far more money with her beauty and charm than working in a think tank after getting her doctorate.
  • A zoologist who supplements her income with sex work so she can afford a nice apartment.
  • A single mother who found that sex work allowed her to finish her college degree and provide a better life for her son.
  • A high-profile business executive who does sex work when she’s traveling on business in other cities because she gets a kick out of it.
  • A life coach in her late 40s who turned to sex work because a bad investment left her short of the money she needed to build her core business.

Each of these women had their own reason for deciding to engage in sex work, but they all loved doing it.  They got to meet many kinds of men, from different walks of life, some of whom become close friends.  They are empowered and set their own schedules to fit their lifestyles.  And yet this is what some want to call “exploitation”.

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