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Posts Tagged ‘witchcraft’

We are quicksilver, a fleeting shadow, a distant sound…our home has no boundaries beyond which we cannot pass. We live in music, in a flash of color…we live on the wind and in the sparkle of a star!
–  Endora (Agnes Moorehead)

A couple of years ago I rewatched Bewitched, a show I always enjoyed in my youth but hadn’t seen since the early ’80s.  I’ve always thought Elizabeth Montgomery was an excellent actress, but this time the magic of cannabis (which slows down my hyperactive nervous system so that I can really watch these shows in a way I’ve never been able to before) opened my eyes to just how talented she really was; she could convey so much with just her facial expressions and vocal manner, and her comedic timing was brilliant.  But beyond that, I saw aspects of the show itself that were previously opaque to me.  I’ve always recognized that many of the episodes are veiled commentaries on racism and other forms of bigotry; that was typical of the 1960s, when fantasy and science fiction shows could sneak controversial issues past uptight sponsors and network censors by disguising them as the stuff of alien worlds or magical happenings.  When Samantha angrily denounced ugly witch stereotypes or mortals’ fear of those who are different, the perceptive viewer understood what the show was really saying.  As I grew older, I realized that there was also a more-deeply-buried queer subtext which was too radical even for most contemporary viewers who thought of themselves as liberal:  beside the fact that several of the principals were played by gay men, Samantha had to hide her true nature in order to exist in the judgmental mortal world, and only in the company of other witches could she really be herself.  Furthermore, those mortals were willing to hunt, persecute and even burn those like her merely because they were different.  But queer people weren’t the only sexual minority violently persecuted and actively hunted by 20th-century puritans; while I’m sure it was unintentional, sex workers can also see ourselves reflected in this magic mirror.

When I last watched the show, in my late teens or very early twenties, I naturally identified most with Samantha.  But on this rewatch, I found myself identifying with her mother, Endora, due in part to her age, in part to her unique personal style, and in part to her attitude toward her daughter’s marriage.  I’m old enough to have a daughter in her twenties or early thirties, and I can certainly understand how I’d feel if she married a man I thought wasn’t good enough for her.  But it goes beyond that: the association between sex work and witchcraft is a very old one, and even today many sex workers metaphorically describe our work as “magic” (not to mention the many sex workers who actually do specifically practice witchcraft, though obviously not the fantasy TV variety).  Endora’s chief gripe with her son-in-law isn’t really that he’s mortal; it’s that he wants to rob her beloved daughter of her birthright by forcing her to eschew magic and submit to mortal drudgery.  And every time I heard her say this to Samantha (in quite a few episodes), I imagined how I would feel if my beautiful daughter gave up a successful career in sex work to marry a “dumbo” who demanded she renounce her heritage, shun her whore friends, and work a shitty square job when she could make far more with far less effort by doing what she’s good at instead of letting herself be limited to behavior that doesn’t make dreary, unimaginative authoritarians uncomfortable.

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Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.  Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil.  –  Eric Hoffer

To paraphrase Baudelaire, the loveliest trick of religion is to convince people that the Devil exists.  Humans have never been fond of admitting blame for anything, but when someone is caught red-handed committing some evil and therefore cannot blame any other human, the truly devout buck-passer blames an invisible, intangible, supernatural force.  Authoritarians, too, love their devils; what better way to convince the Great Unwashed to render their obedience and surrender their liberty than to convince them of the existence of super-powerful evil spirits who cannot be stopped except by whatever snake oil those authoritarians are selling?  Over the past couple of centuries, belief in actual anthropomorphic deities of evil has slowly been replaced by belief in more tangible devils such as “criminals”, “terrorists”, “pimps”, and “people who vote differently than I do”, but as we head into a new dark age belief in a literal red guy with horns, hooves, a tail and a pitchfork has once again become popular in the Underdeveloped States of America.  The occult boom of the early ’70s (heralded by movies like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby) paved the way for the Satanic panic of the ’80s and early ’90s, which after an implosion around 1994 soon returned as the “sex trafficking” hysteria; its roots in the older, more openly-religious hysteria are clearly visible in its QAnon branch and in persistent nonsense about the supposed magical powers of “pimps”.  And every so often, people whose entire understanding of how the universe works could be crammed into a chicken’s brain pan and still leave room for a politician’s moral compass, shit all over themselves because some musician employs “Satanic” imagery comparable in sophistication to that in a US television show from the 1950s.  Every society has throwbacks like this; the difference is that in America, we pretend they’re adults and let them decide who’s going to run things.

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This guy lay in shit and…died in [a] cell that looks like a friggin’ horse stall.  –  unnamed investigator

Imagination Pinned Down

Like seeing pictures in clouds or inkblots:

When the unrecognizable body of Jeannette DePalma…was found atop a…wooded hill…called the Devil’s Teeth in 1972, rumors spread quickly that the [16-year-old] was killed in some sort of satanic rite…Police…[claim]ed…they had found signs they thought might be related to the occult, including crosses made of sticks and branches arranged in a coffin-like outline around her body…But crime scene photographs released for the first time [last month]…debunk those claims, showing that DePalma’s body was simply lying in a dense, brushy area…facedown with an arm draped over a downed tree branch…Jason Coy, a history professor…who researches witchcraft…said he can’t find any sign of the occult or any other symbolism in the jumble of brush and branches.  It suggests that investigators, looking for something sinister, saw patterns that weren’t there…“Everything in th[e police] sketch that was marked out as a cross, in these crime scene photos just looks like a pile of underbrush…it’s a perfect example of how…i[f] someone…[has] the idea that something could be occult, they remember things that way”…

The Naked Anthropologist

Here’s Dr. Laura Agustín with GAATW on the rescue industry:

Torture Chamber 

For a change, this journalist doesn’t refer to torture as “correction”:

…Reginald Wilson spent more than 1,300 days in and out of jail since 1997 for charges often related to his fragile mental health…in December 2018 [Georgia cops abducted and caged him] for a probation violation…[dur]ing a mental health crisis…he was [lock]ed in a padded [cell and given no professional help, even after]…he smeared his own feces on the wall.  “He never slept. He was constantly just up, doing almost like gymnastics when you watched the video,” one [screw admitted to]…investigators…Wilson stopped eating, drinking and refused to take medication…[yet] the jail’s psychiatrist never saw [him].  In[stead,] staff [just repeatedly yelled “stop faking” at]…him…[and cop]s tased him at least tw[ice].  After… eight days…a [screw] found Wilson not breathing…[and] covered in…feces…[he had] died from…dehydration…

Not for Any Reason Whatsoever

Do I really have to add, “Not because a little boy picked a flower”?

[A] 6-year-old…was accused of picking a tulip from a yard at his bus stop, his attorney Julie Boyer said, and…was on trial…for injury to real property.  The boy’s attention span was too short to follow the proceedings…[so] Boyer…handed him crayons and a coloring book…she…and others [explain that] children that age don’t have the mental capacity to understand the juvenile justice process and…can’t make informed decisions…[yet at present North Carolina]…expect[s them to]…”Should a child that believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy be making life-altering decisions?” asked…Judge Jay Corpening…[local] advocates…recommend…the age be raised to 12…The National Juvenile Justice Network recommends 14…

End Demand (#893)

It’s good to see a story like this quote at least one knowledgeable person:

Columbus [Ohio politicians] are weighing changes to local solicitation laws that would emphasize pu…shing [propaganda about] those who pay for sex [in addition to propaganda about] those who sell it…[politician] Mitchell Brown [vomited out popular nonsense about]…sex trafficking…chief [copagandist and rape apologist] Jennifer Knight…[salivated about forcing people into “re-education”] sessions…[but actual] researchers like Jennifer Suchland argue “end demand” policies often backfire…“Because there’s now substantial evidence to show that they are, one, not actually reducing the amount of exploitation, and two, they are increasing the precarity of those people who are in the sex trade”…Suchland says…the “end demand” model is based on a faulty assumption…

Knight is the sow charged with making excuses for the Columbus rape gang, and claims the way to “build trust” with women is to hunt, rape and cage them.

Safe Position (#1058)

Don’t be deceived by Katz, a duplicitous proponent of Swedish criminalization:

Queens, New York, District Attorney Melinda Katz moved…to dismiss nearly 700 cases against people charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution…[on] the same day…Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed [Swedish-style]…criminaliz[ation]…The…law was repealed last month out of concern it too often targeted…people…based solely on their appearance…Katz [followed up by bloviating about]…sex trafficking…

Katz is dismissing these cases because she has to, since the law they were charged under was repealed.  This isn’t some kind of personal move on her part toward sex worker rights, despite claims to the contrary.

Predictable Consequences

Lots of sex workers are quoted in this rebuke of prohibitionist yellow journalism:

The New York Times re[acted to]…the recent slayings of eight persons at three “Asian” spas…by a deranged religious nut…with a self-[indulgent article]…adopting the rhetoric…of…sex work…pro[hibitionists], painting the spas as havens for sex trafficking…without one quote from sex workers or sex worker rights advocates, the Times piece [claim]s that “experts say there are more than 9,000 such businesses” in the U.S. which are “fronts for prostitution,” and that “many of the women working there are being exploited.”  That dubious statistic hails from a particularly odious non-profit, the Polaris Project, which has long conflated consensual adult sex work with sex trafficking and has a history of dealing in fake statistics and urban legends…Massage workers…have no agency, nor any voice, in this scheme or this article…

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I thought y’all might enjoy this Twitter conversation I recently had, primarily with Matisse and Carol Leigh; it touches on a number of themes that recur frequently in my work.  Twitter conversations tend to branch, but I think I’ve managed to gather the main elements I want to share.

 

 

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What we really need are safe and legal ways for sex workers to do what millions of Americans depend on them for.  –  Kate Zen

Under Every Bed 

Population 23,639:

…Guardians of the Children hosted a walk and candlelight vigil to raise awareness about child exploitation…[and] human trafficking…[but because North] Platte [Nebraska has no actual “sex trafficking” the members conflated it with]…child abuse [so they could claim at least a few hundred]…cases…

The Widening Gyre (#786)

When a headline writer doesn’t actually read the article first:

…historians offer a…thesis for the purpose QAnon serves.  The “nocturnal ritual fantasy”—a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europe’s Inner Demons—is a recurring trope in Western history.  And it is often a politically useful one.  Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against “heretics,” it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocents—and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed…

Apparently, New Republic editors are so fixated on the “left-right” fantasy, and the belief that all social evils proceed from “The Right”, that they’re willing to characterize the Romans, the Christians, and the great majority of 1980s and 1990s Americans as “The Right” in order to cram an article into that paradigm.

Guinea Pigs (#955)

Just a reminder that this privacy-destroying abomination started as a means of spying on sex workers:

Palantir…promises t[o]…create clarity and order.  But to deliver, its software needs data — lots of it.  Now, two never-before-seen documents, “Intermediate Course” and “Advanced Course” training manuals, reveal how the Los Angeles Police Department has taught its [thugs] to use Palantir Gotham…At great taxpayer expense, and without public oversight or regulation, Palantir helped the LAPD construct a vast database that indiscriminately lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, friendships, romances, jobs of Angelenos — the guilty, innocent, and those in between.  LAPD’s Palantir database includes information from the DMV…[and] 1 billion pictures taken of license plates from traffic lights and toll booths in Los Angeles and neighboring areas.  If you’ve driven through Los Angeles since 2015, the police can see where your car was photographed, when it was photographed, and then click on your name to learn all about you…

Thou Shalt Not (#971)

Pregnant women are easy targets for crypto-moralists:

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should completely avoid caffeine, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal.  Its findings, though, were quickly picked apart by skeptics who are sick of women being warned that almost everything they do…is a risk to their kids.  “I don’t think we need to worry about coffee,” says Clare Murphy…[of] the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “I think we need to worry about this relentless pursuit of pregnant women and regulating of pregnant women’s choices”…the paper…is…a meta-analysis of several earlier studies…conducted by James E. Jack, a professor of psychology at Reykjavik University whose life’s work seems to be excoriating caffeine…in a culture enamored of shame and blame, especially when it comes to moms, it is this kind of research that gets funding and attention…Murphy says that her country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published guidelines “whereby they want a woman’s entire alcohol history through the entire pregnancy—from a glass of beer they had before they knew they were pregnant—to be all documented and transferred onto a child’s health record.”  The clear implication is that anything a mom does can and will be held against her if a child exhibits problems…

The Implosion Begins

Cops will embrace any belief, no matter how bizarre, which gives them more power:

…what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views?  What if…he…was watching videos…[claim]ing that a satanic cabal of high-profile…pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring?  Or was swiping through memes popularizing …[fantasies] about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive?  And what if they sincerely believed it all?  In a small but growing number of places across the country…[cops] have endorsed QAnon, [just as they endosed “sex trafficking” hysteria from which it sprang]…

Working From Home (#1070)

We’re way past the watershed when a prominent sex worker activist gets a network news byline:

Sex workers are the majority of creators on [OnlyFans], and here was a celebrity coming in and making more in a day than they could in a year.  Many sex workers rely on [the site] as their sole source of income during the pandemic, as in-person encounters became unsafe.  But what especially angered workers was how [former Disney star Bella] Thorne caused a wave of chargebacks that “broke OnlyFans”…[by] promising a $200 pay-per-message nude photo that she then shied away from sending…Shortly thereafter, OnlyFans…limit[ed] max subscription and tip payments and extend[ed] payout time by 23 days in 14 countries where fraud risk is deemed highest…To rub salt in the wound, Thorne’s sister Kaili responded to the controversy by seeming to dismiss and shame sex worker concerns…while the scandal has mostly died down, the problems it revealed remain worthy of our attention, especially as we head into fall and winter without a clear end to the…pandemic in sight…

Tissue of Lies

As I predicted almost 9 years ago, these debunkings are becoming common:

…The myths spread about human trafficking are endless.  Every year viral headlines claim the Super Bowl (and other major sporting events) are hotbeds for human trafficking.  This has been debunked for years.  The vast majority of sex workers get into the industry through friends or social activities, not through coercion of pimps.  There are ads to fight human trafficking in airports all over the country, despite there never being a confirmed case in one (but many cases of interracial families are reported)…These myths will continue feeding conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon until there’s a cultural effort to share the truth.  Human trafficking has been marketed as a national problem for decades and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars both publicly and privately, yet still has no credible studies showing the numbers of victims, no proof there’s a nation-wide crisis, and scarce evidence that current solutions help the underlying problems at all…

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I exonerated tons of cases that involved awful conduct.  –  Dan Bodah

Here’s a funny look at something I’ve been pointing out for decades now, provided by Marc Randazza; the links above the video were supplied by Amy Alkon, Thaddeus Russell, Franklin Harris and Jesse Walker, Walter Olson, and Jesse Walker again, in that order.

From the Archives

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Moral panics are a natural, if unfortunate, byproduct of the tribal instincts of the great ape called homo sapiens.  They tend to last roughly a generation from start to finish (sometimes, mercifully, a little shorter) and can cause tremendous damage to individuals’ lives and society in general before they’re over.  Clever sociopaths have always found ways to profit from these periodic waves of hysteria; for example, evil opportunists would often hurl accusations of witchcraft at widows whose land they wanted to steal.  But the first major moral panic of the internet era (the Satanic Panic was already moribund by the time AOL began its first major marketing campaign) has created a market for profiting from hysterical propaganda on a scale never before seen in human history.  It’s impossible to even guess how large what Laura Agustín dubbed the “rescue industry” has grown, but when its connections to the garment industry are considered, it’s probably safe to say that it’s comparable in size to its own imaginary claims about “sex trafficking”.  In 2011 the propagandists declared January “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month”, probably due to the increasing popularity of the myth that the Super Bowl, which is held in the first few days of February, is a huge driver of “sex trafficking”, with huge cargoes of “sex slaves” trucked into every host city, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transportation and lodging.  Cops and other police-state organs have taken advantage of the hype as an excuse to present their pogroms and “stings” as “sex trafficking operations”, and as a result every January now produces an avalanche of idiotic propaganda (absurdly referred to as “education” or “raising awareness”) that is shockingly stupid even by the very low standards of “sex trafficking” propaganda.  Take this incredible mass of lies from KAKE in Wichita, Kansas:

…“Back Page [sic] needed to be shut down,” [oinked vice pig] Brent Huhman…“they were exploiting…women”…It was considered a hotbed for human trafficking, which can lead to missing people.  The site’s creators would defend the user-posted advertisements…they were not responsible for [under section 230 of the CDA]…However, [federal propaganda claimed] it…pushed moderators to approve [questionable]…ads [despite ample evidence to the contrary]…

The rest is the usual hodgepodge of local “news” copsucking, yellow journalism, parent-scaring, bogus math, BDSM sexual fantasies, surveillance cheerleading and more.  This article from KDRV in Medford, Oregon is every bit as moronic:

Oregon police report that they encounter 3-5 victims of human trafficking per week; 80% of these victims are women, 50% are children.  “People don’t realize that sex trafficking with children is a silent epidemic in the United States,” said Kirsten Arreguin…of Redemption Ridge…“Portland is the second largest city for forced child prostitution in the United States right after Las Vegas”…Traffickers spend considerable time in areas where children congregate such as parks, malls, youth shelters and on social media in order to carefully lure their victims into sex slavery…

It is a sign of the incredible mathematical illiteracy rampant in the US that nobody questions a “report” which begins with “statistics” that add up to 130% (children cannot be women and vice versa, so the categories cannot overlap).  And the prohibitionist sexual fantasy of “pimps” hanging out at every playground is so sick that one has to wonder how anyone higher on the evolutionary scale than a cop could possibly take it seriously, until one considers that these are the same mouth-breathers who claim there are more “sex trafficking” cases in Oregon alone than in the entire United States (“…jail intelligence suggests approximately 595 minors and 1,191 adults are currently victims of sex trafficking currently in the Portland metro area…“); presumably “jail intelligence” is Copese for “tall tales told by prisoners trying to get on cops’ good sides”, because there aren’t even 500 full-service sex workers in Portland, much less “child sex slaves” (this fantasy claims about 1 “sex slave” per 400 adult men in the area).  Support for sex worker rights is growing all the time, and even some of the usual suspects are beginning to recognize prohibition for what it is.  But cops, politicians and profiteers are going to continue publicly masturbating while riding the gravy train until it finally runs off the rails for good.

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It seems odd … to make…integrity of…intimate body cavities dependent on who it is that does the…penetrating.  –  Judge John Z. Lee

Where Are the Protests? 

A lot of editing was needed here:

…Portland Police [are]…merging [the] human trafficking [gang]…with its [vice gang.  Prohibitionists]…are concerned the consolidation will result in [fewer pigs raping and persecuting sex workers, but in reality the point is to have more cops harassing women and fewer investigating actual labor exploitation]…

Pride Goeth

We don’t see many good articles about “Straight Pride” events, but the ones we do see are hilarious:

Netflix has threatened the organisers of Boston’s Straight Pride with legal action after they listed the streaming platform as a “prospective corporate sponsor” for their anti-LGBT+ event.  Netflix sent a cease-and-desist order to Super Happy Fun America, the group organising the parade, which has several ties with…white nationalist organisations…Super Happy Fun America were ordered to “immediately” remove the Netflix logo from all materials associated with the event, with the threat of further legal action if this is not done within 24 hours…The parade organisers hit back at Netflix on their website in a post entitled “Netflix hates the straight” which accuses Netflix’s legal team of being staffed by “gay supremacists”…Super Happy Fun America previously tried to use Brad Pitt as their movement’s “mascot,” but were forced to stop following a complaint from Pitt’s representatives…

Torture Chamber 

Our government refers to this as “correction”:

Screenshots of a private group chat…show several [screws] at a Florida prison making [vile] remarks about an inmate beating days before a video of that [beating]…was uploaded to YouTube…by inmates using a [hidden] cell phone…the sister of the [beaten] inmate…and a Florida [politician] who interviewed the inmate in person…have [reported that] officials at the institution [are lying]…about what transpired and attempting to cover up the [flagrant] abuse…Otis Miller [is now locked up in a different stack of cages]…The video [clearly] show[s a gang of screws]…punching [Miller] in the head…[even though] he…is [only] five feet tall and weighs 140 pounds…the [screws clearly took] pride in the damage they had inflicted on [a helpless human being, oinking out such pleasantries as]…“That [inmate] looks like beetle juice [sic]”…“I want more lol”…[and] “Fuck him”…Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch responded with [the usual denials and bullshit]…

That Old Black Magic (#442)

Remember that witchcraft charges were once a popular way to persecute sex workers:

Two residents of the city of Gudermes were [arrested by cops in] Chechnya…for practicing…witchcraft…persecution of medicine men and psychics began in Chechnya six years ago, but in recent years has intensified…The detained women may be facing criminal prosecution…Sorcery and magic contradict Islamic dogma…but…the current campaign…is less connected with religious motives, and to a greater extent with comparatively stronger police control…believes Mikhail Roshchin…of…the Russian Academy of Sciences…

Other modern “wars on witchcraft” are taking place in IndonesiaSaudi Arabia (including online censorship), and to a lesser extent the UK (subtitle link).

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#684) 

This is the worst crime I’ve ever seen “sex addiction” used as a defense for:

A…son of a priest blamed a porn overload for him raping and killing a California scientist who vanished from a conference in Crete…Giannis Paraskakis, who confessed to the murder of 59-year-old Suzanne Eaton, [claimed]…watching too much hardcore porn led him to murder…Paraskakis…encountered Eaton on June 2 and…rammed into her twice with his car…he [then] stuffed an unconscious Eaton in the trunk of his vehicle…drove to a remote World War II bunker near Xamoudochori…raped her and left her for dead…Eaton — a molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany — was reported missing by colleagues after she missed several sessions at an Orthodox Academy of Crete conference.  Her [remains were] recovered from inside the bunker July 8 with “many broken ribs and face bones as well as multiple injuries to both hands”…cause of death was ruled asphyxiation…

License to Rape (#836)

US court rules mass sexual assault is legal as long as other wannabe rapists are allowed to watch and learn:

Early one March morning inside an Illinois prison, a tactical unit armed with batons and shields stormed two women’s housing units to round up about 200 handcuffed inmates and march them to a gymnasium…[where] they stood facing the wall for more than an hour…until the guards started taking groups of four to 10 into the adjoining bathroom and beauty shop.  There, they were ordered to strip.  Standing shoulder to shoulder, women on their periods were asked to remove their tampons and pads…They were ordered to lift their breasts and hair, to cough and squat, and then, finally, to bend over and spread open their vaginal and anal cavities…male guards [stared at] the naked prisoners…[throughout] the humiliating mass strip search…[which was pretended to be] a training exercise for incoming cadets. Now, after eight years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled in a divided 2-1 opinion that the entire 2011 episode was legal…

Change a Few Words (#868)

Another good example of why “legalized” sex work is a bad idea:

[Violent thugs] in Southern California have conducted a massive drug bust that includes 14.9 tons of illegally-grown marijuana in one area…[the thugs also stole] 37 guns, multiple dogs and a honey oil lab at the properties in the Perris area, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles…[pigs raided] 48 [private properties]…and have…[locked] 27 [human beings in cages for farming]…

Oh noes, they grew plants without asking “Mother may I?” first!  WHAT MONSTERS!

Welcome To Our World (#888)

Not an attempt to control women’s bodies, no sirree:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court…charged three women with human trafficking in connection to a surrogacy business after they were arrested and deported from Vietnam…two of them are still pregnant…

Pyrrhic Victory (#915)

More on Amazon’s campaign to end privacy forever:

On [July 18th], Amazon’s [fascist surveillance] partnership with the Orlando Police Department [supposedly] ended, and…city officials [claim] it didn’t work…[because] the city’s technology infrastructure simply wasn’t advanced enough and didn’t have the bandwidth to support the artificial intelligence software on more than one camera at a time…Amazon proposed to outfit the city with more advanced surveillance cameras…since the cameras already installed downtown weren’t proving to be compatible with Rekognition, but the city [suppos]edly declined.  This failure rather neatly illustrates a reality standing in the way of a [fascist] panopticon:  extremely normal technical problems.  If Amazon wants to market a surveillance product to local governments, it will have to deal with the fact that many municipal computer systems run outdated software, that police departments’ cameras aren’t all high-definition, and not all the equipment is neatly networked with a…reliable internet connection.  Amazon appears to be having better luck looking to civilian customers to help it break into the police surveillance market…[by] hand[ing] out free or discounted Ring systems to residents, which allows police to…access footage directly from the…doorbell cameras using Ring’s Neighbors app…cities as big as Dallas, Philadelphia, Birmingham, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City all have joined Ring’s police program, according to a new map from…Fight for the Future…The map also lists smaller cities that have contracts, like Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Maywood, New Jersey…

Elephant in the Parlor (#926) 

Pederast politicians are nearly as common as those who hire adult women:

A businessman who [w]as a key witness in…Robert Mueller’s investigation now faces a charge of child sex trafficking in addition to transporting child pornography…Lebanese-American businessman George Nader…transport[ed] a 14-year-old boy from Europe to Washington, D.C. [for sexual purposes] in February 2000…Nader…[w]as [a] liaison between Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian banker close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and members of President Donald Trump’s transition team.  Nader also served as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates…Nader was convicted in the Czech Republic…of 10 cases of sexually abusing minors and sentenced to a one-year prison term in 2003….[and] also pleaded guilty to a charge of transporting child-pornography images in Virginia in 1991.  The current investigation…began last year when images depicting child pornography and bestiality were found on his phone after it was [seized] under a search warrant connected to the Mueller probe…

Overripe

More from Liz Brown on the Epstein case:

R. Kelly. Jeffrey Epstein. Keith Raniere.  For more than a decade, each of these men escaped largely unscathed as allegations of sexual misconduct — sometimes involving minors — piled up…the recent prosecution of all three on federal sex crime charges…represent all-too-rare instances of “sex trafficking” cases that seem to involve real predatory behavior.  It’s a nice change.  In recent years, sex trafficking charges have largely been lobbed against sex workers and those who work with them.  In both the media and the halls of justice these days, the terms “sex trafficking” and “human trafficking” are often used interchangeably with “prostitution”…“Human trafficking operations” are all too frequently just rebranded stings…The Mann Act is a favorite for federal prosecutors wanting to butt into prostitution stings when there are no minors or evidence of coercion.  That’s because the law prevents driving another person — technically it’s gender neutral, but in practice these cases almost always involve a female sex worker — across state lines for prostitution purposes…In its annual Operation Cross Country, the FBI often ratchets up federal arrest numbers by conducting stings in cities like Kansas City, where driving from one part of the city to another means crossing from Kansas into Missouri…

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It’s a funny sort of justice that lets the government take your stuff and then say you have no recourse because you don’t have that stuff anymore.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Lower Education

Why, how could anyone have predicted this outcome?

…A student accused of sexual assault and subject to an unlawful, unconstitutional adjudication process filed a motion seeking class-action certification in his pre-existing lawsuit against Michigan State University.  Rather than seeking to void the results only of his own flawed adjudication, he’s now seeking to void every adjudication where accused students were punished “without first being afforded a live hearing and opportunity for cross examination.”  This new motion comes after a wave of cases across the country that have invalidated and reversed the results of campus kangaroo courts — and these rulings are coming from judges across the political/judicial spectrum.  In California…judges issued rulings that effectively halted proceedings in 75 campus sexual-misconduct cases, while California universities reworked their processes…the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals joined dozens of other courts in ruling that university processes should face exacting legal scrutiny…

Torture Chamber

In case you thought screws restricted their petty sadism to the prisoners:

In May…the Jackson County Detention Center In Kansas City, Missouri, with no warning to local attorneys, instituted a new [humiliation] policy that requires all visitors, including inmates’ attorneys, to pass through a metal detector…underwire bras are setting it off…instead of simply using a wand to determine what is setting off the alarm…the [cage stack] is refusing to let visiting women pass through until…their bras…come off…An even more draconian policy was implemented in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 2018:  Visitors were given only two chances to pass the metal detector — and women were required to wear a bra under prison rules…A Maryland jail was sued [for similar reasons] in 2011…[in the current case] when women (and, later, men) complained about a policy they found unnecessary, humiliating and sexist, they were met with gaslighting, false solutions, accusations of privilege, stonewalling and, finally, retaliation.  And this was against attorneys, who by definition are well positioned to fight back…

That Old Black Magic (#501)

West African “penis stealing” hysteria has spread to East Africa:

A…man in Likoni, Mombasa, plans to travel to neighbouring Tanzania to seek the help of a famed witchdoctor…after an elderly sex worker allegedly cast a spell on him, which has seemingly rendered his sex organ useless, at least in the bedroom…Isaac Karisa…refused to pay an elderly prostitute he had spent a night with…[because] he was too drunk to accomplish the task and fell into a deep slumber after less than five minutes…Karisa refused to part with the thousand shillings he had promised and instead fished out a Sh200 note…A scuffle ensued, with the woman mumbling gibberish and hurling incantations, aimed at jinxing the man…

I can’t decide whether the phrase “night nurse” is clever or silly, but ladies in the global South, PLEASE start charging these bozos in advance!

Law of the Instrument (#774)

Picture what you’d think of as “sex trafficking”, then compare it to this:

A new legal filing accuses prominent political activist and donor Ed Buck of violating federal human trafficking laws when he allegedly supplied an airline ticket to a man who flew to Los Angeles from Texas and died inside Buck’s West Hollywood apartment.  The [filing bloviates that]…Buck…”knowingly utilized interstate commerce…for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts”…[in the real world] Moore’s death was…[the result of] an accidental methamphetamine overdose…

Cases are this are why even some not-completely-stupid people believe that “sex trafficking” is increasing; “sex trafficking” charges certainly are.

The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn (#824)

No one person can undo an entire system of fascist tyranny:

…Pennsylvania [politicians] have quietly muscled power away from reformist District Attorney Larry Krasner, passing new legislation giving authority to the state’s attorney general to prosecute certain firearms violations in Philadelphia — and nowhere else in the state.  The provision will expire in two years, or just after Krasner’s first term ends…The bill was passed…with no public awareness.  Even some of the [politicians] who voted for it say they [were more clueless than usual]…The maneuver…is the most significant legislative pushback to date against the new movement by criminal justice reformers to focus on seizing the power of the prosecutor…to decide when to bring charges and, critically, when not to.  The new law means that even if Krasner decides to exercise the latter power and not bring charges, the police could go directly to the attorney general to pursue the case regardless…

Prudesville (#828) 

A federal appeals court accepts Everett’s argument that “women who dress like sluts cause rape”:

…a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals…vacated U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman’s 2017 decision that placed an injunction on a city ordinance requiring “quick-service facility” workers to wear, at minimum, shorts and a tank top…The ordinances will now go into effect as the decision is sent back down to a lower court….Everett [politicians] praised the court’s ruling, claiming that…”[sluts in bikinis cause rape]”…

Safe Position (#859)

If Rantz read my blog he’d know this stopped being a “fringe position” over a year ago:

[Seattle city] council candidate Tammy Morales announced on Twitter that she would like to decriminalize sex work in Seattle.  She’s not the only candidate…if Morales lands on the Council with activists incumbents Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant, we may very well have to waste our time debating this fringe position…Mark Solomon, Former crime prevention coordinator with the Seattle Police Department, [also supports decrim, as does]…Chris Peguero…

Sawant has somehow managed to convince a number of people that she is pro-sex worker, but she is a socialist (a group which has always opposed sex work) and flat-out refused to meet with sex workers when she ran the last time.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, with a pro-decrim member on the council, Sawant publicly espouses the Swedish model.

Unsafe for Human Consumption

Everybody knows cops are stupid, but this is a new level of idiocy:

…Given how difficult it is to absorb fentanyl through the skin (which is why the companies that make…fentanyl patches for pain treatment rely on patented technology that took years to develop), the likelihood that [histrionic pigs who accidentally touched some] were actually feeling the narcotic’s effects is approximately zero…[a local news station reporting on such a porcine fantasy] consulted a [soi-disant] drug treatment specialist…who proceeded to [bloviate]…”Someone…who enters a room with a person who’s having an issue with fentanyl could become addicted to it instantly [emphasis added]”…there is no such thing as instant addiction.  Addiction is a gradual process through which people become strongly attached to an experience that provides pleasure or emotional relief…patients who take prescribed opioids, including fentanyl, for pain relief rarely become addicted to them.  So even if [a pack of porkers]…somehow absorbed enough fentanyl to experience its psychoactive effects (say, by accidentally injecting themselves with a loaded syringe found at the scene), they would not become addicted to it unless they liked those effects enough to repeatedly seek them out…

After her accident, Jae was on IV fentanyl for two weeks and didn’t show the slightest signs of addiction afterward.  But as we all know, cops are delicate little pansies who can be so terrified by the sight of a black teenager running away from them that they are uncontrollably compelled to empty an entire clip into his back.  So I guess the idea that they could become “instantly addicted” by touching a person with the drug in his system isn’t so farfetched after all.

Dangerous Speech (#917)

The government keeps contradicting itself in its haste to crucify the former owners of Backpage:

…the 9th Circuit considered claims [last] week that federal prosecutors have improperly seized…money and property and used dirty tricks to prevent the courts from making things right…the feds have seized “26 real properties (some purchased before Backpage… ever existed), 89 bank accounts, and 268 domain names” from the defendants, their family members, and associated entities.  Prosecutors also seized money held in trusts by the defendants’ lawyers, jeopardizing defendants’ ability to afford defense counsel…Under the twisted rules of civil asset forfeiture, the government can take money and property from those accused of wrongdoing before actually proving any wrongdoing, so long as there is “probable cause” to believe the assets were used in or derived from criminal activity.  But for assets related to…First Amendment–protected activities…the government…must first show that the speech in question is not constitutionally protected.  Prosecutors [pretend]…that all the assets it seized were derived from the operation of Backpage, that all ads on Backpage were illegal, and that this is self-evidently true…and…that there were no free speech issues…since Backpage had already been…sold by Lacey and Larkin in 2015…[yet] prosecutors [also] argue that defendants never really did let the company go…

Out of Control (#932)

Spooge-based sexual assaults are growing worse:

…Justin Schneider…admitted that he had [choked a woman until she passed out, then] masturbated onto her….[and] ejaculated on her face.  But he was not charged with sexual assault.  As a first-time offender, he accepted a deal to plead guilty to just a single count of second-degree assault, and he walked out of the courtroom a free man…prosecutors…never brought [a sexual assault charge]…because…In Alaska, sexual assault has a very narrow definition…because Schneider touched only his own genitals but didn’t touch Lauren’s or force her to touch his, his actions didn’t qualify as sexual assault…Alaska lawmakers last month voted to close what has been dubbed the “Schneider loophole.”  But out of 54 US states and territories, 44 of these jurisdictions, including [Washington], do not have a legislated definition of sexual contact that explicitly mentions contact with semen…

Torture Chamber (#950)

And the incidents we hear about are only a fraction of the ones that happen:

…[screws] mistreated migrant children [caged] in Arizona…[one of them molested] a 15-year-old-girl from Honduras…[he] put his hands inside her bra, pulled down her underwear and groped her…in front of other [pigs]…a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy [reported screws] took the mats out of their cell in retaliation for complaints from him and others about the taste of the water and food…accounts…include reports of verbal threats, physical altercations…[and] sexual abuse…

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To attribute [women’s]…prostitution to fear of powerful Nigerian juju is pure hogwash.  –  Leo Igwe

Yellow Fever

Like the BBC, the New York Times has discarded whatever credibility it once enjoyed:

When the New York Times Magazine (10/10/18) looked at Kensington, a neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia, it…saw an opportunity to take readers on a sensational 6,000-word tour of trauma, complete with cringe-worthy language and compassionless photographs.  Reporter Jennifer Percy…doesn’t shy away from…reducing an extremely complicated issue to trauma-porn:  “…women often ended up as prostitutes.  They offered oral sex for $25 so they could buy a few bags“…How many women did Percy interview before determining that all of them offered the same services for the same price?  Could she have crafted a description that was any more victimizing?…Street-based sex work already comes with risks.  Publishing detailed and intimate information about…how they don’t report abuse, could attract predatory individuals…Sex worker advocate groups and researchers have repeatedly said that criminalization forces workers into dangerous situations, and leads to a strained or even abusive relationship between law enforcement and sex workers.  Multiple harm-reduction groups exist in Kensington specifically for sex workers, including SOL CollectiveProject SAFE, and the Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance, but Percy didn’t think to include their work in the conversation…

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

I hope this doesn’t harm the trend toward increased awareness of rapist cops:

…Bellevue, WA police chief [Steve Mylett] was cleared on charges he raped a woman after it was discovered she created fake emails to prove her accusation…The…woman…claimed he raped her two years ago at his Bothell home during an encounter arranged “through an adult sex website.”  The woman also made accusations against two other Bellevue detectives, which led to domestic violence and witness tampering charges against one of them (those charges were dropped earlier this month).  “Bothell investigators found Mylett’s accuser had gone so far as to create phony, backdated email exchanges that contained the address of a Bothell rental home where Mylett temporarily lived…But lease records…proved Mylett had moved out of that house prior to when the woman claimed the assault occurred, and DNA tests ruled Mylett out as a possible match to genetic evidence gathered from clothing the woman turned over”…The woman [allegedly] had a history of hooking up with men she found on Craigslist and then claiming the consensual encounters as rape…Though she had made two false accusations prior to Mylett, she was not charged because of her mental-health problems.  This time, however, it appears she won’t get away with her false accusations [because they were against cops]…Mylett [said]…“people [who aren’t cops] should be held accountable for their actions [even if they’re mentally ill]”…

This man was one of the gang who took it upon themselves to destroy the lives of men who had consensual sex with adult women in the TRB case.

Banishment

Any elected official who acts in this way should be removed from office:

When Richard Gardner, a convicted child sex offender, was released from prison after serving almost 30 years, he quietly moved into the Washington Park neighborhood in Providence…Because his crimes were committed so long ago, Gardner is not subject to the community notification provisions that apply to more recent offenders…But the police [gave] his address to public officials, and a media circus ensued.  The result has been raucous nightly protests in front of his house by dozens of people calling on him to leave the neighborhood…Mayor Jorge Elorza helped fuel the angry gatherings in front of Gardner’s home by stating at a community meeting immediately preceding the first protest that Gardner “has given up his right to be here in the community.”  Other city officials have also encouraged a mob mentality…

The Enlightenment Police (#427)

The European Court of Human Rights kissed France’s arse, but the UN didn’t:

…the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that a French law banning full-face veils in public violates the religious freedom rights of Muslim women.  It is the first time the UN has ruled on full-face veil bans and could have implications for several other European countries that have implemented similar legislation…the UN body found that France’s ban was “too sweeping” and that French officials hadn’t adequately explained why it was necessary to ban…articles of clothing.  Although the ban is [pre]tended to protect women, the law could have the opposite effect by “confining them to their homes, impeding their access to public services and marginalizing them,” the committee said…

The Prudish Giant (#523)

Facebook claims this picture will sexually arouse its users:

For a few hours after The New York Times published an article about conflict and hunger in Yemen, Facebook temporarily removed posts from readers who had tried to share the report…[because]  the article included several images of emaciated children…Tens of thousands of readers shared the article on Facebook, but some got a message notifying them that the post was not in line with Facebook’s community standards…[because] “On Facebook, we don’t allow…any sexual content involving minors”…

Facebook is the embodiment of D.H. Lawrence’s statement, “Our civilisation cannot afford to let the censor-moron loose.”

Guinea Pigs (#579) 

Welcome to our world, amateurs; I hope y’all enjoy what your bootlicking has created:

…[very few US] police departments…have any rules for [pigs] who [violate Facebook’s terms of service by creating]…fake accounts…to friend people of interest and monitor what they post…the practice is almost wholly unregulated…Facebook policies prohibit the creation of fake accounts by law enforcement, but [pigs] are making them anyway.  Some…[even] boast…about their [deceptions] on social media [and Facebook does nothing to stop it]…

Guinea Pigs (#719) 

Palantir is the same company which is helping cops spy on sex workers, and gave cops a facial recognition database of black and Latino men:

Major technology companies including Palantir, Microsoft and Amazon make millions of dollars annually from their contracts with U.S. immigration enforcement agencies…and have helped expand their capabilities, says [a] paper by Mijente, an advocacy group…Palantir’s ICE case management software, which helps the agency track, surveil and deport immigrants, has led to “dangerous acceleration of surveillance technology at the hands of police and prosecutors to target and build profiles of people”…Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, [has] become a “key contractor” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s cloud computing system…The report comes amid increased backlash from workers in the tech industry over the contracts with the government that their companies are taking on.  Google said it would end its work with the Pentagon this year after heavy employee backlash…

See also “Pyrrhic Victory” below.

That Old Black Magic (#769)

I’m so glad to see a Nigerian scholar demolish the racist European masturbatory fantasy of childlike Nigerian women enslaved by black magic:

…There have been [many] reports that have associated forced prostitution by Nigerian women with the traditional belief in juju…from my own point of view as a Nigerian, this much-publicized connection [is] baseless, senseless and absurd…Unfortunately, many western individuals and organizations that are working and campaigning to combat…prostitution…seem to be fascinated by the juju scare narrative.  They find it useful not only because it fits into the stereotypic notion of Africans as childish in thinking…[but also because] it gives them a special job of managing this “people”…European anti-human trafficking campaigners…have refused to pay critical attention to the underlying socioeconomic reasons that force Nigerian women to travel thousands of miles to prostitute in Europe…Many Nigerian prostitutes come into Europe as illegal immigrants and they live in constant fear of deportation.  So Nigerian women who fear returning to Nigeria have other reasons than…juju…

Cooties (#786) 

After more than two years of UK cops publicly masturbating to the fantasy of “trafficking gangs enslaving women in pop-up brothels”, they finally found people they could shoehorn into the narrative:

A gang centred on a single family has been jailed for forcing women from Hungary to work as prostitutes.  Police said “pop up” brothels ran in Nottingham and Derby…Csaba Csomor was jailed for 13 years after [pleading guilty to] charges including trafficking and controlling prostitution.  Five other members of Csomor’s family were jailed for a total of 30 years for a series of related offences…Police [claimed] between December 2012 and December 2017 women were duped into coming to the UK, some on the promise of cleaning jobs.  They were then forced to into sex work…Hungarian authorities alerted UK police…Several women have been [deported] to Hungary but detectives said more victims could still be out there [hiding from the cops who claim they want to “rescue” them]…

I’m sure the cops were disappointed that these folks aren’t Romanian, but one can’t have everything.

Hard Numbers (#847)

Another Australian state moves toward decriminalization:

…the Queensland Government…confirmed the possible decriminalisation of sex work was currently under discussion between the Attorney-General and the Police Minister.  This is a turnaround from six months ago when Police Minister Mark Ryan [said]…there were no plans to decriminalise sex work…

The Course of a Disease (#869)

We were warned that Israeli whore-censorship was only “part of a wider plan”:

The Knesset…gave initial approval to a bill allowing heavy fines to be levied on  people caught hiring prostitutes, as the government aims to crack down on sex [workers]…The legislation passed its first reading by 39-0 votes.  It will now face deliberations in the Knesset Committee for the [Suppression] of Women before coming up for final plenary votes…The bill was first proposed as part of a re[striction] package that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said aimed at stamping out [sex workers]…

Droit du Seigneur (#872) 

Sex workers have been saying this for decades:

By their nature, are police vice units inherently at risk for corruption and misconduct?  Consider recent revelations at the NYPD:  On Sept. 13, retired vice Det. Ludwig Paz was charged with running a prostitution and gambling ring.  In November 2017, a sex worker died while attempting to flee [brutalization] by vice [cops] in a raid on a massage parlor.  The Queens district attorney’s report on her death offered no critical introspection on the impact of vice operations, labeling her a “criminal” who “engaged in a degrading and humiliating profession.”  In June 2017…a vice [pig] faced disciplinary hearings after he…[raped sex workers; no known] disciplinary action was taken …vice unit[s]…operate…with impunity…[like all cops] the NYPD targets marginalized communities, fails to improve community relationships, and hides [their crimes]…behind the blue wall of silence…

Pyrrhic Victory (#882) 

While activists and Amazon’s own shareholders & employees were asking for the company not to support fascism, Bezos was doing this:

Amazon over the summer met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to pitch them on buying the tech giant’s controversial facial recognition technology…Alonzo Peña, who served as deputy director of ICE during the George W. Bush administration, [said] that undocumented immigrants could be deterred from seeking  life-sustaining services if they knew immigration officials were using facial recognition software.  Although ICE is technically barred from arresting undocumented people in hospitals and other sensitive locations, Peña says there have been instances of immigration enforcement [ignoring] those rules…

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