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Posts Tagged ‘United Kingdom’

I can’t breathe.  –  Marvin Scott III, probably

Most of these “songs in old languages” things aren’t very good, but this one was too appropriate to pass up!  It was provided by Emma Evans, and the links above it by Yasmin Nair, Dan Savage, Mistress Matisse, Kevin Wilson, Cop Crisis, Mike Riggs, and Dan Savage again, in that order.

From the Archives

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If there is one thing more powerful than shame, it is the need to find someone else to blame.  –  David Flint

It Looks Good On Paper

Yet another state touts bullshit “safe harbor” laws:

The Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed two bills to [pretend to] help [wwomen labeled] sex trafficking survivors [when it’s convenient for the state.  The bills will]…allow…[“perfect victims”] to have convictions related to [sex work] removed from their personal records…[if they can jump through enough hoops to] prove t[o authoritarian busybodies that they were passive, doll-like “victims”] forced…to commit crimes…

Send In the Clowns

Not a clown, but still about kids hoaxing credulous adults:

Merseyside Police ha[d]…to reassure [gullible parents th[at no]… “plague man”…dressed in all black and wearing a crow-like mask similar to that of a 17th-century plague doctor…was…[lurk]ing in parks…to kidnap [their brats]…the sightings…turned out to be…a…hoax…[perpetrated by] students [falsely] reporting sightings…

To Molest and Rape (#956)

At least the BBC uses the word “rape” when a cop is the rapist:

A [typical and representative cop] has been charged with rape and sexual assault…Ben Lister…has been suspended from [West Yorkshire Police]…

Whither Canada? (#1017)

Sex workers ask the Canadian Supreme Court to uphold its own judgment:

The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform — an alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups across the country led predominantly by and for sex workers — along with several individual applicants, have filed a Notice of Application seeking to strike down the [laws establishing Canada’s Swedish-style] sex work prohibitions…because they violate sex workers’ constitutional rights to security, personal autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, free association, and equality…National Coordinator Jenn Clamen [said] “This government has spent five years paying lip service to human rights and to feminism, and it’s time for them to act.”  In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled three prostitution prohibitions in criminal law to be unconstitutional because they caused harm to sex workers and contravened sex workers’ rights to liberty and security.  This was the federal government’s opportunity to recognize sex workers’ rights and well-being by decriminalizing sex work.  Instead, the government…created a set of laws…that reproduce those same harms…

Rotting Fruit (#1055)

Given the filth spewing from every aspect of this affair, there’s no way to tell whether Maxwell’s conduct could legitimately be considered “sex trafficking”:

Prosecutors added two charges against Ghislaine Maxwell in a case accusing her of grooming and abusing young women and girls for Jeffrey Epstein…The new counts against Maxwell now include sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor…the new charges…prolong…the length of the alleged conspiracy and adds a “Minor Victim-4”…

False Witness (#1121)

Sunlight really is the best disinfectant:

…Texas [pigs have been shamed into]…end[ing]…the [monstrous] practice of using hypnosis to [manufacture “evidence”]…more than forty years after its inception…The decision [seems to be the result of unwel]come…[public attention due to]…The Dallas Morning News…series, “The Memory Room,” which [showed how]…Texas…repeatedly doubl[ed] down on the practice despite scientific evidence that hypnosis can distort witness memories and lead to false convictions…Texas officers continue[d] to [use]…the debunked technique…[t intentionally] send…dozens of men and women to prison and some to their deaths.  The Texas Rangers are among the most [egregious offenders]…performing at least 1,700 hypnosis sessions since the 1980s.  The…[most] recently [w]as October 2020…Even without the program, local police departments may still be using hypnosis to [manufacture]…evidence [which Texas law still allows] to be used in courts…

Predictable Consequences

I wish I could believe that this tragedy would finally put a stake into the heart of the “sex addiction” myth once and for all:

…the press and the authorities…have spent years not only pushing the idea of sex addiction…[but also] portraying…sex workers and…sex-positive academics as evil, corrupt enemies of the state, traffickers and the wreckers of civilisation…they are complicit in crimes like this…[because] their constant demonisation of consensual sex between adults…has stoked the fires of hysteria, anger, social shaming and violent retribution…men who visit sex workers or masturbate to porn and then feel disgust afterwards are going to hold the sex workers…responsible, because it deflects blame from themselves…Often, this transferred disgust and unwillingness to accept responsibility for sexual desire shifts into campaigning against the sex industry…We see this in assorted anti-porn, NoFap, incel and rescue movements, dominated by very angry and aggressive men who want to punish women (and men) for giving them erections.  Are we surprised that some people are taking this anger beyond online rape and death threats and into the real world?  Yet these people have been indulged, encouraged and supported by politicians and the media…Set yourself up as anti-porn, anti-trafficking or anti-sexualisation, and you can pretty much say whatever you like without having to provide evidence, while your aggressive and exploitative responses to anyone who questions you will be glossed over…

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Expungement…is an intentionally fairly hard process.  –  Sasha Naiman

What the Hell Were You Thinking?

Ally Deviant Ollam on internet security for sex workers:

End Demand (#586)

A thorough analysis of the awfulness of “end demand” policies from the superlative Savannah Sly:

Combined with fear and ignorance, simple stories can be powerful propaganda vehicles used to justify state oppression…End Demand suggests that cutting off cash flow to the sex trade economy will discourage profiteering exploiters, and force sex workers to find “real” jobs.  However…sex workers…don’t respond to a reduction of business by simply deciding to “quit the industry” and go get full time corporate jobs with a company car and a full benefits package.  The notion that tough times will motivate people who sell sex to simply move on to greener pastures is absurd, privileged, and fails completely to comprehend the reasons why people become sex trade involved in the first place.  In reality, End Demand is a form of economic siege that’s had catastrophic consequences on sex worker welfare.  Ham fisted and reckless, End Demand tactics have increased instability and scarcity in the sex trade, fostering circumstances ripe for exploitation…

It Looks Good On Paper (#746)

This time they actually admit this shit law is designed to put people through hell:

Bipartisan bills about to be introduced in both the Ohio House and Senate would allow [people branded] sex trafficking victims [by the state] to [beg] courts to expunge past crimes even if they had not been convicted of prostitution or related offenses…[bill sponsor] Teresa Fedor [bloviated nonsense about being]…“forced to steal or sell drugs for their trafficking”…and [seems to imagine that]…use of the internet, cell phones, and massage parlors [have only become part of sex work since the last Ohio bloviation about the topic in 2018.  Another bureaucrat]…noted applicants must [somehow] prove they had been trafficked and that the crimes they are seeking to have expunged resulted from that…“Frankly, it’s a fairly heavy burden on the survivor, but [we want them to prove that they are inert dolls without agency rather than bad girls who had bills to pay]”…

Negative Secondary Effects (#974)

This pro-censorship screed is so larded with dysphemisms barely any escaped my editing:

Bristol is set to become the biggest city in the [UK] to ban lap-dancing clubs in a move [prohibitionists] claim will [magically rewrite the neural pathways in human brains.  Politicians bloviated a lot of tabula rasa nonsense about sex rays causing]…violence against women…Not Buying It, which [publishes revenge porn of sex workers], said councils had a duty to pr[event consensual] sex…

Torture Chamber (#1039)

Your regular reminder that rapist screws are not confined to the US:

Canadian prisons…do…not keep track of employees [who rape prisoners]…The problem is also fueled by the [refusal] to believe prisoners when they [report rapes]…In recent years [only] three guards have been charged with sex crimes a[lthough the actual number of rapes is dramatically higher]…

The Next Target

Prohibitionists’ next target isn’t just Pornhub; it’s all online sex work:

Germany’s most vocal proponent of state censorship, an obscure local bureaucrat named Tobias Schmid who serves as the head of the State Media Authority (LMA) of North Rhine-Westphalia, has announced…his [animosity toward]…OnlyFans…“We are registering that OnlyFans…are [sic] increasingly attracting erotic providers…and we will take care of it,” Schmid ominously warned…Schmid…like…fellow War on Porn crusaders worldwide, claim[s] his campaigns have a purpose to “protect the children,” although with the German twist that he is proudly an obsessive of “Ordnung” (order)…

You Were Warned (#1108)

Prohibitionists, censors and profiteers will continue to harass businesses thus until FOSTA is overturned:

…a California judge ruled that, although the contracts signed by a former [porn] performer were valid, the arbitration agreements that were part of them should be disregarded…Judge Michael Anello denied a motion by porn studios to implement the arbitration clauses in the contracts signed by a Jane Doe for scenes they had distributed…Doe…briefly worked in the adult industry around 2009-2010.  At the time, she alleges, she was represented by someone named Cissy Steele…[whom she apparently was also involved in an abusive] relationship with…[the pro-censorship group Morality in Media is behind the suit, which]…names a number of adult studios and sites active a decade ago…as co-defendants on the basis that they distributed scenes…Doe [contracted with them to distribute]…

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The Swedish model…is driven by Puritanical fantasy rather than reality.  –  Molly Simmons

To Molest and Rape

Cops lie so frequently, they can’t tell which lies are believable:

A [cop] charged with [nothing more serious than] misconduct for [rap]ing a…[drunk] woman [is trying to blame]…her…Lee Cocking…picked [up] the woman…on Christmas Eve, 2017…and…had [sex with her even though she was far too drunk to consent]…he…[claimed] the woman climbed on top of him…[and] he was left feeling violated…

Safe Position (#966)

A group of over 250 social scientists, including Ron Weitzer and Barb Brents, have sent an open letter to the new president and vice-president, calling for them to walk their talk and actually support “science-driven policy” with regard to sex work.  This will, of course, have no more effect than the similar letter sent by Ann Jordan and a dozen other researchers to the Obama Administration in 2011; Biden was one of the chief architects of mass incarceration, and the Swedish-model-supporting Harris’ long history of awfulness has been well-documented in this blog.  However, it’s another pebble in the growing pile which has made supporting sex worker rights a safe position for politicians, and that is a fine and welcome development.

The Cop Myth (#994)

If they actually punished wife-beating cops, they’d lose half of them:

On February 25, Boyce Ballinger was sentenced to 18 months probation after pleading guilty to felony “strangulation” and misdemeanor “domestic battery”.  The court even promised to allow him to expunge his criminal record if he complies with probation.  On October 17 of last year, Ballinger and his wife went to a neighbor’s party…When they came home, his wife asked him about his alcohol consumption.  He responded by attacking her [in a drunken rage]…chok[ing] her…and [slamming] her into a wall.  She ran to a bedroom.  Ballinger followed and banged violently on the door…[after] arrest…[he was] immediately released…without bail…and…ordered not to contact his wife, who filed for divorce shortly thereafter.  He violated this order in December by stalking…her…he was [then] sent to jail to await trial…[at which he was] offered…a plea bargain…

A Broker in Pillage (#1072)

Burying government in lawsuits is the only way to slow its depredations:

On March 4, 2015, police in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, stole Malinda Harris’ 2011 Infiniti G37 because [they decided to accuse] her son, Trevice…of selling drugs…the cops never alleged that he used [the car] for drug dealing or that she knew about her son’s illegal activity.  Harris heard nothing more about her purloined property until October 2020…when she was [finally] served with a civil forfeiture complaint that had been prepared the previous January…the unconscionable delay in giving her a chance to recover her car was a due process violation that by itself justifies its immediate return.  Massachusetts invites such abuse…because its civil forfeiture law “does not provide any deadline [by] which the Commonwealth is required to initiate forfeiture proceedings.”  The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, which represents Harris, cites several other constitutionally questionable aspects of the state’s law, which…is…”the worst…in the country”…In this case, the government[‘s]…evidence [consists entirely of] the title to the Infiniti…”occupancy papers,” two parking tickets, and a “Jiffy Lube receipt”…

Winding Down

Will Washington politicians accept progress, or demonstrate their hypocrisy?

The Washington Supreme Court effectively decriminalized simple drug possession in that state…by overturning a law that made possession a felony without any evidence of intent or knowledge…Washington was the only state that criminalized innocent, unknowing possession of illegal drugs.  The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the statute…[is] a strict liability crime…[which] the court ha[s at long last recognized]…violates the due process clause of the state and federal constitutions…The state legislature can—and probably will—recriminalize simple possession by amending the statute to include a mens rea element.  A bill [already] introduced…would [do that, but a competing]…bill…would eliminate criminal penalties for possessing “personal use amounts” of drugs…

Social Distancing (#1094)

So many “enlightened” countries still pretend that disease is caused by “sin”:

Baltimore strip venue The Penthouse Club announced…that it has reached a settlement with the city which would allow it to reopen, only days after the club sued…over COVID regulations that…discriminated against adult entertainment…other indoor entertainment venues like bowling alleys and skating rinks were able to reopen…except…strip clubs…

The Course of a Disease (#1109)

One can never have too many anti-Swedish criminalization articles:

…carceral feminists operate under the misguided ideas that all sex work is inherently exploitative; that any sex in exchange for money or goods is rape; and that sex workers are safer in prison than on the streets.  The…legislation…backed by [New York politician] Liz Krueger …is a US adaptation of…Swedish…criminalization…Decades of research have shown that, by targeting and driving underground…participants in the industry, such models increase stigma…discrimination…violence and coercion…They lead to harsher working conditions, higher rates of financial instability and less agency and freedom in our daily lives.  When such a model was enacted in Northern Ireland, 56 percent of sex workers said their work had become more dangerous…[this form of]…criminalization…fails in the same way abstinence-only sex education fails: It centers ​“morality” over material needs…sex worker[s are]…not interested in debate about whether or not the sex industry is a ​“good” thing or whether it ​“should” exist or not…and…the moralizing in [such] legislation…infantilizes sex workers in a deeply patriarchal way…

To Molest and Rape (#1110)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A [typical and representative] Brisbane [cop was found guilty]…of sending “sexual and suggestive” messages to a teenage girl he met…[via his] work…in the Inala Child Protection and Investigation Unit…[Matthew Paul Hockley] interviewed the 15-year-old girl in 2019 in relation to a…[sexting] incident…the[n badgered her for weeks with]…a series of [Snapchat] messages that escalated from inoffensive to sexual and inappropriate, which made the girl “increasingly uncomfortable”…[because] the application…automatically delete[s] conversations…the teenager [had to record some of the harassment] with another device…to…show…the court…[Hockley’s] defence lawyer argued h[e] had no sexual interest in the girl, but was in[stead trying to get in] her mother[‘s pants, presumably via a reverse Lolita scheme]…

Child protection unit“.

Quiet Genocide (#1111)

Disgusting men never get tired of blaming women for their own rapes:

China, under growing global pressure over its [atrocities against]…Uighurs in…Xinjiang, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign [of propaganda], including explicit attacks on women who [reported being raped by guards and Communist Party officials]…a growing number of Western [politicians are finally admitting that]…China [is conducting a] genocide…[so] Beijing is focusing on…accus[ing] some of [its female victims of] having affairs and…sexually transmitted disease…as evidence of bad character…the…meticulous and wide-reaching campaign…hints at China’s fears that it is losing control of the Xinjiang narrative…in…[which it refers to mass surveillance, torture, rape, and brainwashing as] “liv[ing] and work[ing] in peace and contentment”…

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DHS…is spending its time knowingly policing paid sex acts between consenting adults (even though prostitution is not a federal crime).  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Japanese Prostitution

A modern descendant of the walled districts of feudal times:

…In its prime from the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s, Japanese civil servants, policemen, and salarymen from the nearest main island would take a 3-minute boat ride to [Watakano]…where a quarter of its 270 residents were sex workers…girls…could each make as much as two million yen ($19,000), or the equivalent of $26,000 today, every month.  Residents who weren’t sex workers ran grocery stores, cafes, and apartment complexes.  Hidden yet prosperous, Watakano Island enjoyed decades of economic wealth.  But when Japan’s economic bubble burst in 1992…high spenders stopped visiting…the[n]…In 1998, Japan legalized [outcall] escort services…

Rooted in Racism

Anti-sex laws are deeply rooted in racism all over the world:

…law enforcement uses sex-negative legislation to enable harm against marginalized communities…Laws targeting sex work and pornography “have sexist, racist, and classist origins”…and those underlying roots continue to manifest themselves to this day.  For example, “anti-trafficking” organization Polaris works with [cops] and ICE to arrest and deport…sex workers with a special emphasis on Asian sex workers.  Between 2012 and 2016, arrests of Asian people in New York City for “unauthorized practice of a profession” and prostitution rose 2,700 percent.  In 2018 Polaris launched a campaign to close “illicit” massage parlors…thousands of Asian women have lost their businesses and their livelihoods…Laws against loitering for purposes of prostitution…empower police to profile, harass and arrest women for existing in public spaces…[using excuses] such as “wearing a skirt” and “standing somewhere other than a bus stop or taxi stand” as justification

Think of the Children! (#571) 

No doubt the children were contaminated by sex rays!

A Sacramento [woman’s] three young kids were expelled from a Catholic school because she sells sexy videos online.  The principal…[wo]n’t even [let the children] pick up their things left in class.  Crystal Jackson…is making up to $150,000 a month selling access to photos and videos on her Only Fans account.  [Only] some of the pictures include nudity.  But…a [busybody caught her husband looking at]…her site and started a campaign [with her busybody friends] to get her three kids [expelled by sending poison pen letters including screenshots]…to the diocese and school principal…

I’m sure Jesus would approve of punishing children for the sins of their parents.

Lack of Evidence (#897) 

They were “safeguarded”, no doubt at a “safe house”.  How stupid do these pigs think we are?

Twelve people have been arrested after…police [staged a pogrom] in Woolwich and Kent…[in order] to…exploit…sex workers [to further racist propaganda]…police st[aged an American-style raid]…on…February 16, by battering down the door and smashing glass as they [chased their terrified middle-aged Chinese victims] down [like animals]…This [pogrom resulted in] the arrest of a 44-year-old woman…a 52-year-old man…a 37-year-old…man…a 59-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman.  Another woman was arrested for immigration offences….and two [other] women were…safeguarded…to [be deported] at a later date.  [Two spokespigs oinked a lot of filthy wanking fantasies about]…modern slavery…organised…crime…and money laundering…

This is your regular reminder that massive police operations in the UK have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1026)

“Sponsored content” means content a paper was paid to publish; it’s an ad, not journalism:

…the Guardian and the Observer [have] launched…a two-year reporting project [advertised as] investigating and exposing human rights abuses around the world…[but is in actuality sponsored] by Humanity United…[it] builds on [previously-published propaganda and yellow journalism]…on human trafficking…modern slavery…[and] sex trafficking…

Click on the subtitle link for Gustavo Turner’s previous reporting on the previously-published content mentioned above, which includes “articles and editorials with a distinct War On Porn…slant“, including providing “a platform to…Exodus Cry founder Laila Mickelwait…Humanity United…[is] a U.S.-based [prohibitionist] foundation…[founded by] a billionaire p[rohibition]ist couple…who were embroiled in a labor human trafficking scandal of their own around the time they founded Humanity United…

Social Distancing (#1084)

While India allows deranged prohibitionists to dictate public health policy:

Bangladesh has started inoculating older sex workers at the country’s biggest brothel…to protect the most vulnerable in the pandemic…“If I don’t reach them, they may not come…It’s important to encourage groups…who are disadvantaged,” said Dr Asif Mahmud of the Goalanda district where the brothel is…Bangladesh…launched a vaccination drive in the first week of February and has since vaccinated nearly 2.5 million people…

The Widening Gyre (#1103)

Hysterical fantasies about normal events seem most common in the South:

Savannah [Georgia] is [becom]ing [a hotspot for fantasies about]…human trafficking.  In one incident, a woman claim[ed] a man…was attempting to distract her at a…gas station so that he could take her children…[in reality, the man she intended to inflict cop violence upon] was actually a gas station employee who was attempting to tell [her] that the pump she was at was inoperable.  The second…post [claimed] an unmarked black car with a blue dome light in the dash attempted to pull [her] over…[she] further [lied that she] called 911 and learned the black car and a blue truck have been involved in local human trafficking incidents.  Police [den]y [that there was any such call or any such]…incidents…[in reality] the post[er]…had [simply] been involved in a confrontation in traffic with the other vehicle…

Loose Cannons (#1109)

Too bad the settlement won’t come out of prosecutors’ and sheriffs’ personal assets:

…one of the…[victims of the 2019 pogroms which entrapped Robert Kraft] has filed a federal civil lawsuit to see that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.  Keith Taig is seeking to obtain class-action status for himself and anyone who was [illegal]ly filmed while visiting the…East Spa…and subsequently slapped with criminal charges…While prosecutors [were eventually forced to] drop…all cases against the men who were surveilled, publicly humiliated, and used to make claims of a sham trafficking bust, the women…[are still being] prosecuted [despite being]…the very people police [pretend]ed…they were in this to save.  Four…have already pleaded guilty to prostitution.  Two…are still staring down serious charges…Some local press continues to report that [Lanyun] Ma stands accused of “human trafficking,” although no such charges exist…and…Prosecutors are still planning to use the [illegal] surveillance footage…

Winding Down (#1114)

Your “leaders” know what’s best, so shut up and obey:

Efforts to thwart voter-approved marijuana legalization…are evidence of a “playbook” that reflects new legal strategies and greater willingness among [politicians] to [disregard] election results…In Idaho, some [politicians] are…trying to preemptively ban marijuana legalization through an amendment to the state constitution…Utah [politicians] enacted a much more narrow medical cannabis program than was called for by a voter-approved citizen initiative…[and] the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the governor and Legislature were within their legal rights to [ignore the voters because they know better]…The Nebraska Supreme Court shot down a medical marijuana initiative before Nov. 3, saying it violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures…South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem [used a similar rule] to [ignore] that state’s voter-approved…initiative…and now…backe[rs of liberty are] preparing to appeal to the state Supreme Court…In Mississippi, a constitutional challenge to voter-approved medical marijuana…is based on a signature-collection technicality that would nullify “every initiative in the past two decades”…Montana, which also has faced [authoritarian] legal challenges to its voter-approved recreational marijuana initiative, [is in better shape due to]…having a governor committed to upholding the vote…

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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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If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you.  Because I’m the worst.  –  Larry Flynt

R.I.P. Larry Flynt

The last of the “Big Three” of men’s magazine publishing, Larry Flynt, died of heart failure a week ago today at the age of 78 (Hugh Hefner preceded him in 2017 and Bob Guccione in 2010).  Flynt’s magazine Hustler was (intentionally) the raunchiest of the three, and its brand had the greatest commercial viability in the long run due to its expansion into home video and strip clubs.  As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, infringements of civil liberties always start with those nobody wants to defend, and Flynt intentionally set himself up as a target for censorship attempts by prominently featuring the nasty, the grotesque, and the deliberately offensive, especially in Hustler‘s cartoons and cover art.  He was prosecuted for obscenity several times, always prevailing in the end, and battled fundamentalist blowhard Jerry Falwell all the way to the Supreme Court in the ’80s; after 1978 he was paralyzed below the waist due to being shot by a racist who objected to Hustler featuring interracial couples.  Despite attacks from dried-up “feminists” like Gloria Steinem and prissy editorialization from bluenosed “journalists”, the fact is Flynt was a bona fide free speech hero, and not merely in his own mind as the WaPo’s pearl-clutching headline pretends.

Droit du Seigneur 

What did this guy think he was, a cop?

The Ohio Supreme Court suspended the law license of a [lawyer who]…was charged with human trafficking involving six women — most, former clients…Michael Mearan…say[s]…the allegations [a]re [a frame-up by cops using] testimony from [prisoners] who [were given] favorable treatment for co[lluding with cops]…Mearan…was [also a politician who sat on the]…Portsmouth…city council…he [is alleged to have] targeted women who were poor, addicted to drugs and facing criminal charges to take part in [what cops label] a prostitution ring during a 15-year-period beginning in 2003…

Thought Control

US institutions often need to be reminded that they do not own people:

…Kimberly Diei, a pharmacy graduate student [was expelled from] the University of Tennessee…[after] her posts on Twitter and Instagram were…[the subject of a poison pen accusation by] an anonymous [busybody]…She was given two days to appeal, and she scrambled to find a lawyer.  With the threat of a lawsuit looming, the dean of the college reversed the decision to expel her.  But the experience was so painful that…Diei filed a federal lawsuit with the help of a pro bono lawyer, arguing that the public university had violated her constitutional right of free expression “for no legitimate pedagogical reason”…universities are…fumbling to [extend campus censorship] policies…into the world of social media…And young people are fighting back, contending that their off-campus speech is no business of their school…the Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the case of a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania who was removed from the junior varsity squad after she posted vulgar complaints about not making the varsity team…

Acting and Activism (#556)

Predictable ugliness from the “celebrity” prohibitionist trash who once called stripping a “gateway to slavery”:

Red Table Talk…[hosted by noted bigot] Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow…and mother…“Gammy”…tout[s] itself as a space where three generations of women can discuss various topics in a judgment-free environment…But…Ava Louise Lockner…[revealed that] the “open and honest” policy the show pushes is not what she experienced when she was set to be featured in an episode about being a sugar baby in the fall of 2019…she [was verbally] attacked during the several hours she spent at the Smiths’…home, [with] Pinkett Smith…rolling her eyes and Gammy…slut-shaming her throughout filming.  When the segment failed to air, Ava Louise spent weeks chasing up once-eager producers.  Finally, she…received a…call from a high-level executive on the show…[who] told her…they would not be airing her episode because…the hosts found her “gross and disgusting…they don’t want to be associated with sex work”…

Banishment (#870) 

This Orwellian tyranny is part of how governments are getting around the push to reduce prison populations:

Twenty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have laws that authorize civil commitment of [human beings arbitrarily branded] sex offenders…after serving their prison terms…The state punishes people…based on the [claim] that they could and should have controlled themselves.  But when it is time for them to be released after completing the punishment prescribed by law, the state says that was not actually true; now they must be locked up precisely because they can’t control themselves.  If the government decided to retroactively increase an offender’s penalty, it would be clearly unconstitutional…The trick is to cast continued confinement as treatment rather than punishment.  But…in Minnesota, only 13 [prisoners] have been unconditionally released since the program was established in 1994; more than six times as many have died in custody…the Supreme Court [says that’s okey-dokey]…Joe Morrissey…argues that Virginia’s [similar] program is “abhorrent”…[and] introduced a bill that would have abolished the program [but other politicians]…derailed [the] bill

Cooties (#884) 

UK cops are still shoehorning people into their public masturbatory fantasy of “pop-up brothels”:

Three men and a woman have been arrested for [consensual sex dysphemized as “]slavery[” in a raid on an apparent incall dysphemized as]…a “pop-up brothel”…Two [migrant] women…were [also arrested and]…are currently being [held pending deportation]…

“Safeguarded” is the UK euphemism for “held without trial or charge pending deportation”.  The term is Orwellian even in a field littered with such propaganda.

Torture Chamber (#1098) 

Stop faking!

An Alabama man [locked] in a prison mental health [cell] overheated and died in December after temperatures inside his cell topped 101 degrees Fahrenheit.  Tommy Lee Rutledge was found unresponsive in Donaldson [cage stack] on the night of Dec. 7, sitting near the window of his s[olitary-confinement] cell with his head “facing out the window,” in an apparent attempt to breathe cool air…his core body temperature [had] reached 109 degrees…[Screws refuse to explain] how temperatures inside the…cell skyrocketed past 100 degrees on a winter night with a low of 31 degrees…citing an “ongoing” investigation…

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You’re acting like a child.  –  unnamed cop to 9-year-old

So I’ve been doing a “video of the day” thing on Twitter, and realized I’ve never featured my favorite Ozzy song, so here it is.  Would it help if I told you I used to strip to this?  The links above it were provided by Emma Evans; Cop Crisis; Stephen Lemons; Mama Tush and Franklin Harris; Cop Crisis again; and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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If the mayor defunds the police, I’m going to shoot her.
–  “Officer” Steve Poulos

This week’s video was tweeted by J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, as a farewell to Mira Furlan (“Delenn”); I think it speaks for itself.  The links above it were provided by Mistress Matisse, Sola Love, Phoenix Calida, Franklin Harris, Radley Balko, Amy Alkon, and Gustavo Turner, in that order.

From the Archives

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My friend Brooke Magnanti has a new project named Body of Work on the new platform Substack, and to call attention to it I’d like to share my favorite of the posts she’s published there so far. It’s both a moving memoir and a powerful rebuke to the sheltered puritans who pretend sex work is “The Worst Thing a Woman Can Do“, which is incidentally the title of this piece.

My dad was mowing strangers’ lawns on the day that he died.

He woke before sunrise – the habit of a blue collar lifetime – with his schedule for the day written out on a piece of college-ruled paper, copied from the app where homeowners booked him for reasonably priced lawn services. He had the rest of the week drawn up as a grid too, with blank spaces for last-minute jobs that might pop up on his newly purchased smartphone.

He loaded the truck with the tools of his trade: edgers and whips, a spade and a rake, a refurbished secondhand push mower, and drove the ride-on mower (also a refurb) onto the small trailer behind his 15-year-old F150. He put a lunchbox with two turkey sandwiches and four bottles of frozen water into the cab. They would melt during the hot Florida spring day, keeping his food cold and providing hydration as he worked in the full sun.

Sometime after 8am, he started having abdominal pains. The worst of his life. My father – no hypochondriac, also the habit of a lifetime – called 911. The hospital did some tests and discharged him by 10am, diagnosis mild constipation, prescription two kinds of laxatives. He didn’t feel better. His last few outgoing texts were to friends letting them know he couldn’t meet up later, he was sick. He went on to complete 3 of the 5 jobs on his schedule.

He died that night. 70 years old, retired not even one day of his life. When we found his phone, most of the missed texts and calls were from the app, set to automatically ping when he didn’t check in online for his agreed jobs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“What, are you too proud to scrub a toilet?”

That was a question I have heard a lot. After coming out as a former sex worker in 2009, I could count on at least one know-it-all standing up to pronounce more or less this exact accusation at every book signing, public speaking event, or festival I appeared at.

The question askers never stuck around to hear, really hear the answer: it’s hard to get a job in the UK as an American student, I couldn’t work more than 15 hours a week, no one was allowed to hire me if any qualified EU applicant was available, and that wouldn’t have made a dent in my bills anyway. ‘Too proud to scrub a toilet’ also seemed to be the takeaway most columnists went with when discussing my writing. According to everyone with a public opinion my problem was not lack of cash but that I was too proud, or precious, or whatever to do real work. I was spoiled.

Thing is, I wasn’t just spitballing about whether or not scrubbing toilets pays the bills. I knew already, from experience, that it would not – because cleaning was the very last job I held before moving to London. I worked for months at a hostel in Aviemore while writing up my PhD thesis. In between changing beds and mopping bathrooms, I collated data on forensic pathology cases and assembled chapters on the processes of human decomposition. Because I also was the hostel’s cook and lived on site, I was able to save almost everything I earned. I thought this would put me in good stead for the autumn, when I planned to submit my PhD back in Sheffield, then move to London to look for work.

Long story short: my calculations of expenses for life in the capital city were way, way off. By the time I paid the extortionate deposit and rent on a sad little room in Kilburn, I was already out of cash. But with my PhD not yet approved I couldn’t apply for science jobs. So I became a call girl. A choice that I thought (also mistakenly as it turned out) would be lucrative, not require a particular visa, and that I could leave behind as soon as I started my “real” career.

That was then.

This is now: I’m scrubbing a toilet in a million dollar house in one of my county’s fanciest neighborhoods. American Standard. The water in the American Southwest is mineral-heavy and leaves rings on everything; I’m not so much scrubbing as chipping away at stalagmites of built up lime.

It’s the first toilet I’ll clean today, the first of four bathrooms in this house, but it’s not the last time I’ll think about those people who imagined I was too proud to scrub a toilet. I’ve been scrub-a-toilet poor before; it’s not that big a deal. No, instead they were telling me the thing they considered to be the last-resort job of choice before “selling your body.” Their deepest fear, the most undignified thing short of being a whore (which as we all know is the worst thing a woman can do).

That’s the calculation according to society. Whore is worst, cleaner is second worst, and no one in their right minds would do either. Let alone both. Yet the jobs persist. Even in a recession. Even in a pandemic. Key workers both. Not the front lines, accumulating accolades and sometimes hazard pay, but the back lines, doing jobs few want to admit always need done.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic it seems cleaning after oneself is still a job for someone else. Lifestyle columnists Sarah Ditum and Janice Turner raised a few eyebrows when they staunchly declared the unavailability of house cleaners in the first wave of covid to be beyond bearable. Not for them picking up the mop, or worse yet, asking one’s husband and children to chip in. No, went the logic, cleaners wanted the work. They loved their clients.

I’ve heard people say things like that before almost word for word. People who are the customers of sex workers. Do I have to tell you women like those are just the sort of people whose husbands I once would have fucked for money? I know it, and I guess they know it too.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you too are in possession of a house and neither the time nor the inclination to clean it, you could book me or someone like me through any number of websites and apps. They all have slick, modern sites, enormous market capitalisations, and most importantly in this buoyant gig economy: they employ none of the people who show up at your door to do the work.

The landing pages show clean, modern homes resplendent in bare wood, white tile and brushed metal fixtures. Homes with six-burner gas ranges and fresh cut peonies in fishbowl vases. The kind of homes that few of the cleaners could ever dream of calling their own. The vibe is upscale, quiet suburb or cool high-rise urban.

And if you don’t mind what happens to your body, to your health, then there are always jobs like this, just not careers. With ubiquitous smartphones and widespread internet services that previously were available mainly to the well-heeled can be booked at the touch of a finger. In many ways the rise of sex workers on the internet when I was an anonymous blogger presaged the way many would soon be working in the 21st century.

My entry into cleaning for apps is straightforward. Sign up, submit a photo of my driver’s license, wait for a background check. Answer a few (very few) questions on my experience as a cleaner. I have a bit, from the aforementioned pre-London days turning over an 80-bed hostel in the Scottish Highlands for a summer, to helping out friends with holiday cottages.

I’m accepted on the platform and my rate is set at $15 per hour. That’s 4 dollars an hour above the nearest city’s minimum wage, more than twice the Federal minimum of $7.25, but well below anything that could result in the “thousands” the app’s ads on Craigslist promised. Up to thousands, I remind myself. Technically that means anything above zero. I’m assured through a short series of videos that work is straightforward and easy to come by, and that any problems I might experience with the app itself are quick to figure out. I’m told if I book 10 jobs this week my rate goes up, maybe as high as $22. I complete the series of Youtube videos that constitute training and log on.

There are no jobs. At all. Not today, and not tomorrow.

There’s one in three days! I click, eager to “claim” before anyone else does (because that must be what’s happening, right? There are no jobs because they’re already taken?) But when I google the location I find it’s in central Colorado – a 330-mile round trip from where I am now. Sure, there’s a $20 “bounty” for picking this one up, should I choose. But I decide to forego it. There is zero chance at this rate I will ever earn more than $15 an hour through the app.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We live in the age of the side hustle. Everyone I’ve met since moving back to the US has one. The fine artists with an Air B&B, the candle maker who cleans for them, the solar installer who is also a part-time fire captain, the fire captains who sell third party phone cases on Amazon. The jiu-jitsu instructor with a window washing business. The college professor who works as a part-time paramedic on ski patrol. The ski patroller who proctors exams at the college.

There is no mystery as to why. None of these people are rich or have any illusions of becoming so. Side hustle as a phrase sounds cool, as if a few hours of your week here and there will make it rain and make the Moet pour. The reality is more prosaic. Life in the land of opportunity is expensive. With a stunted public transport infrastructure, cars are a necessity if you want to get by in most of America. The college degree has more or less taken the place of a high school diploma, sought out even for entry-level customer service, and the expansion of the student loan industry leaves many in debt long beyond their 40’s. Credit rating determines everything from your ability to rent accommodation to even whether or not you get a job, obliging people to spend and keep spending in the name of being a trustworthy consumer. Being a consumer obliges you to work. Once entered, the cycle has no end. Not even retirement, for those (unlike my father) lucky enough to contemplate it: in 1985, 10.8% of people over 65 in America were still working. The number in 2017 was double that, and expected to become still higher when the twilight years of Baby Boomers give way to geriatric Generation X.

It gets worse. A shocking number of America’s personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills. From a high of 1.5 million in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act came into law, it declined to 770 thousand in 2016. And yet the problem is not solved: the requirement to buy insurance even on price-capped markets still leaves a lot of room for expenses in the form of deductibles that can be thousands of dollars or more. People still avoid accessing preventive care and instead end up in the emergency room, sometimes not until they are on death’s door. We may be in post-Obamacare America, with many on the left making noises about some form of universal, free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare, but the wolf of sudden medical emergency could turn up and destroy your life anytime. Even in the coronavirus pandemic America did not manage to elect a candidate who promises universal healthcare.

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Four-Toilets is not a bad job as these things go. I know that immediately. It isn’t a 330 mile round trip to get there, for starters; only an hour from my house. The place is owned by a couple of about my age, pet- and child-free. They are not hoarders, and while some of it requires elbow grease (the aforementioned hard water in toilets situation) they’ve not left cleaning so long that any of it is out of hand, save a giant walk-in shower I spend about a third of the allotted five hours scrubbing.

The man goes out, and when he comes back, has brought me a sandwich. I don’t have time to eat on the clock of course. The app’s clients feed in the size of the job and the app gives them an estimated finishing time (no breaks). I do the last toilet, vacuum and mop, and am done bang on the hour the app predicted. I can’t help but wonder if there was a box they ticked that said “our house is already pretty clean” (it was) or if, in the future, similarly-sized jobs with less scrupulously tidy clients will be assigned the same five-hour time slot.

I don’t think about that, just sign on to the app to confirm completion of the job, load up my car (you are required to bring all supplies, including mop and vacuum, and more recently, PPE), and accept a shyly-offered $30 tip from the man. They want to book me again, once every fortnight. I say I’ll have a look on the app but I’d like that.

I have no illusions: few jobs will be as straightforward as this. On the drive home, I start making a list of what I need to replenish. Paper towels, microfibre rags, oven cleaner, furniture polish. Pick up some limescale remover! And some drain unclogging liquid. The tip covers my time driving to and from the house, and the gas, just about. It reminds me of being an escort when the client’s tips usually covered my transport.

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