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Posts Tagged ‘yellow journalism’

The key question we need to ask is why she was in prison in the first place.  –  Deborah Coles

The Lesser of Two Evils (#722)

Maybe the Church should delineate acceptable ways for priests to meet their sexual needs:

A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested for stealing over $117,000 in church funds to buy drugs for his gay sex parties.  Father Francesco Spagnesi…has been placed under house arrest while police interview 200 people who reportedly attended his lavish orgies over the past two years…when a parish accountant discovered that he had withdrawn [the money]…from the parish’s bank account…the local bishop…cut off [his] access to the funds…Spagnesi…the[n]…began taking money from the collection plate and soliciting money directly from parishioners, who were told he was raising aid for poor families.  The parishioners have now initiated legal action…to reclaim their money…

News flash: humans have sexual urges.  Deprive them of socially-sanctioned ways to meet their needs, and they’ll find other ways.  It really is that simple.

Full of Themselves (#787)

What is it about massage parlors that brings the puritans out of the woodwork?

In one of New York’s toniest neighborhoods…a shady massage parlor is hidden in plain view…[it] sees a steady stream of well-dressed male clientele late into the night.  The alleged illicit massage business in the upscale neighborhood is one of at least 629 others currently operating across the five boroughs — a network of illegal enterprises so vast, they outnumber Starbucks 2 to 1 citywide…this summer, a local [prohibitionist] in search of…a [way to drum up anti-sex hysteria supposedly sent her teenage son into one, then got him to parrot her ugly propaganda to a prohibitionist reporter for a yellow rag]…

When you see the word “illicit”, you can be sure you’re reading prohibitionist propaganda.

Torture Chamber (#1102)

British screws also love yelling “Stop faking!” at caged people:

A vulnerable 18-year-old whose baby died after her calls for help were ignored as she gave birth alone in a prison cell was not provided with bereavement support – but the prison guards who [refused]…her medical assistance were offered counselling…the [guards finally noticed her]…cradling her dead baby more than 12 hours after…[she told] staff…she needed an ambulance…

At least the UK press uses fewer copsucking euphemisms that that of the US.

Sex Rays (#1109)

Oh noes, they contaminated public places with their eeeevul sex rays!

A South Carolina couple, previously arrested in January over public sex videos they had uploaded to adult platforms, has once again been charged under local “obscenity” statutes after an anonymous [snitch] gave the police a USB drive containing their adult content…Eric and Lori Harmon…ar[e]…being held without bail…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#1119)

It’s always nice when they feed on each other:

A [typical and representative] Jacksonville [Florida cop] has been arrested on charges of distributing…child…[porn]…Scott Matthew Yotka…faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted, as well as [condemnation to the “sex offender” registry]…Yotka…[was caught when he] used a social media app to [chat] with an…FBI [spook fantasy role-playing]…as the parent of a child…[he] was a[pparently offering to] Yotka [or some similar thing buried in the news report under prevarication and euphemisms]…

Safe Position (#1123)

I’ll be optimistic when she clearly repudiates the Swedish model:

[New York governor] Kathy Hochul did not endorse the decriminalization of sex work…but s[aid]…“It is absolutely something I’ve thought about and I’m considering”…[unfortunately there are] two competing bills…before the state Legislature….“We hope that when (Hochul says) ‘decrim’ that she’s talking about the real comprehensive decriminalization for sex workers that will ultimately lead to better outcomes for people,” [said] Jared Trujillo…[of the NYCLU; however]…the Hochul administration has had discussions with people backing a [Swedish model bill sponsored by [prohibitionist] Liz Krueger [which would treat sex workers as moral imbeciles and target their partners, friends, co-workers and families for persecution]…

To Molest and Rape (#1175)

So many words to downplay raping children:

A [typical and representative] Coos Bay [Oregon cop] has been indicted and arrested [for] child [rape]…Terry Scott Rogers…started [repeatedly raping] a child [under 12] in 2012…and…continued [regularly raping her] for six years.  Rogers was indicted on [five] counts of…[rape], eight counts of [molestation]…and [other associated] charges…Rogers’ attorneys argued his…background [as a rapist] is proof he can be released on his own recognizance…[but the judge set bail at] $50,000…and…Rogers [w]as [rewarded with a paid vacation]…

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Censorship, once condemned by all ethical people, has now become almost universally popular.  –  “The Convergence of Censors

The last week of September is “Banned Books Week“; over the 11 years I’ve been writing this blog, my columns on the topic have changed as threats to intellectual freedom have dramatically increased worldwide.  As I said last year,

When I was a librarian, [this] Week was little more than an academic exercise; censorship was an intermittent and generally impotent threat proceeding from small numbers of narrow-minded busybodies, which was easily defeated by librarians and other guardians of our shared cultural heritage.  But that was a generation ago, and would-be censors have become numerous, aggressive, well-organized and (most concerningly) popular.  Few of those under 30 even understand what free speech is or why it’s important, and the majority or those over that age imagine all sorts of exceptions that they believe should be reasons to violently suppress speech…the censor-morons…are…multiplying like bacteria and have already infested all the centers of power…

The links are all there for your perusal, but just in case you’ve been asleep for the past three or four years, here are a few stories from the past six months so you can see for yourself that I’m not exaggerating.  There’s still plenty of old-fashioned, bluenosed, school-based censorship conducted in the name of THE CHIIIIIIIIILDREEEEEEN!!!™, but now they’ve learned to pretend ideas they don’t like constitute a “crime” so as to threaten their enemies with police violence.  Furthermore, institutions writers could once count on to defend them, including libraries and publishers, now race to see who can kowtow most obsequiously to the censor-morons, sometimes even volunteering to act as censors themselves, and institutions which need free speech the most are lobotomizing themselves by peddling pro-censorship sophistry and even conducting literal book burnings.  Governments are increasingly claiming the “right” to declare which facts are “correct” and to suppress ideas they declare “disinformation” or “fake news”, and in our increasingly-connected world governments are increasingly able to cause trouble for people who say things they dislike far beyond their own borders (China is the worst offender, but is far from alone).  Soon, ideas the mob, the government, or other violent simian gangs dislike may become impossible to acquire outside of caches of virtual samizdat, at which point the censor-morons will pivot to criminalizing avenues of access to such caches while “intellectuals” cheer and pen screeds about how obedience and conformity are far better for “society” than imagination and critical thinking.

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This is an inherently abusive power that [cops] should not have.  –  Wesley Hottot

If Men Were Angels

“Youth pastors” are as bad as cops:

A woman is suing the Grace Baptist Church in Lansingburgh, [New York, because] its leadership ignored her daily sexual abuse as a [teen from 15-17] at the hands of a youth pastor – then claimed that she had “led him on”…Larry Hallock…sexually abused the victim “on a daily basis” between 2000 and 2002 in the church…Hallock’s wife sent the [victim] several letters acknowledging…the abuse…

No Moss

This time Rolling Stone wasn’t alone in gulping down a load of codswallop:

KFOR, an Oklahoma news channel, reported last week that rural hospitals throughout the state were in danger of becoming overwhelmed by…overdoses of ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug promoted by [anti-]vaccine [cranks] as a possible treatment for COVID-19.  The story went viral…under the headline: “Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals”…[and] was quickly picked up by…Rolling Stone, Newsweekand the New York Daily Newsin fact, [there’s] little reason to believe a purported strain on Oklahoma hospitals is caused by ivermectin overdoses; one hospital served by the doctor quoted in the KFOR article released a statement saying it has not treated any ivermectin overdoses, nor has it been forced to turn away patients…but…at no point did [the interviewed doctor, Jason] McElyea actually come out and say that ivermectin overdoses were straining hospitals…It was the journalist, Katelyn Ogle, who added that framing…This means, of course, that if the national media outlets had called the doctor or the hospitals, they would have easily uncovered the error.  Instead, they [careless]ly spread it…

Stalkers in Blue

Another cop demonstrating what he is:

A [typical and representative] Arkansas [cop] will spend ten years in prison for stalking a…woman for more than three years…In 2016, Skylar Galloway was working at a family-owned gas station…The owner’s brother was [typical and representative cop] Mark Holland…Galloway eventually moved and switched jobs.  A month later, anonymous emails came [demanding] nude photos…[along with threats] like “If I have to come over there, I’ll take my own pics. I’m going to get what I want.”  Another read, “You are going to scream and moan, but you probably won’t really like it.”  She started filing police reports…but was turned away [because birds of a feather]…So she decided to…start…investigating…[and] after three years of digging. she realized it was Holland in December 2019.  Within five days, he was arrested by his own department and charged with 20 felonies…

Social Distancing (#1046)

Once a government takes more power, it never really relinquishes it again:

[Using the excuse of] coronavirus…Australia’s federal and state governments imposed draconian restrictions on its citizens [that even the] Prime Minister…[admits are far] too heavy…Before 2020, the idea of Australia all but forbidding its citizens from leaving the country, a restriction associated with Communist regimes, was unthinkable.  Today, it is…policy…Intrastate travel within Australia is also severely restricted…The state of Victoria announced a curfew and suspended its Parliament for key parts of the pandemic…In New South Wales…the…military [was deployed] to enforce lockdowns…anti-lockdown protests were banned, and when dissenters gathered anyway, hundreds were arrested and fined…Enduring rules of th[is] sort would certainly render a country a police state…with COVID-19 now thought to be endemic, rather than a temporary emergency the nation could avoid, how much time must pass before we must regard Australia as illiberal and unfree?…

A Broker in Pillage (#1072)

A good argument for refusing to roll over and let yourself be robbed:

Stephen Lara [was pulled over in Nevada by a cop using the common pretext]…that he’d been…following a…truck too closely…the [pigs rooted through]…his…vehicle, [steal]ing nearly $87,000 in a zip-top bag from Lara’s trunk and [pretend]ing a drug-sniffing dog had detected something on the cash…Lara…was charged with no crime.  But [cops]…call[ed] a [DEA spook] to [engineer] an “adoption,” [a scam] which allows [local cops to circumvent state laws curtailing such robbery by enlisting] federal authorities to [pretend that they were the ones who] seize[d] cash or property the[n give most of it back to the local pigs]…It was only after Lara got a lawyer, sued and talked with The Washington Post about his ordeal that the government said it would return his money [due to the bad publicity]…Justice Department [mouthpiece] Joshua Stueve [oinked that] the government “is reviewing existing policy on adoptive forfeitures”…

You Were Warned (#1108)

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

A federal lawsuit accusing Twitter of sex trafficking can move forward, says District Judge Joseph C. Spero, in a decision that could portend a dangerous expansion of how courts define “sex trafficking”…[under] FOSTA…The case…was brought by…Morality in Media, [the Kennedy-era pro-censorship group] that also opposes NetflixAmazon, and Cosmopolitan magazine [and now wants to be called “The National Center on Sexual Exploitation”.  MiM wants the court to rule]…that soliciting a sex video from someone under age 18 amounts to sex trafficking…[and that] unwittingly providing a platform for a third party to post or link to that video makes one part of a sex trafficking enterprise…the teens—who were 13 or 14 years old at the time—recorded themselves engaging in sexual activity and used Snapchat to share these videos with a third party [the]y believed to be a peer.  The recipient turned out to be an adult, who allegedly blackmailed one of the teens…into providing additional sexual content…The perpetrator could have been held individually responsible, since blackmail and soliciting obscenity from minors are both crimes.  Instead, [MiM] is going after a bigger, richer, and much more high-profile target…

To Molest and Rape (#1168)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A Los Angeles Co[p]…has been arrested for…molesting a 16-year-old girl in Rancho Cucamonga.  Antonio Heriberto Galindo…coached girls’ softball teams…[as a means of finding and grooming] victims…

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There’s a lot of emphasis on the sex part of the sex industry rather than the trade part of it.  –  Catherine Stephens

The More the Better

Anything that helps demystify sex work is a good thing:

…sex sells and where there’s a juicy, marketable topic, the novelists will follow.  The compulsion to set stories in an “edgy” setting guarantees a constant stream of questionable fiction about sex work.  Sex workers appear only when they are dead; sex workers are ludicrously happy; sex workers are powerless victims.  Sex work is flattened into stereotypes or laughably misrepresented; sex work is stripped of all political context, erasing the real-life battles we fight over policing and legislation.  [In] my novel, The Service, I tried to give readers a glimpse of the wildly different ways in which we work.  I wanted to write a book about the mundanity of prostitution, the boredom and practicalities…If readers take anything from The Service, I hope it’s that sex work has as many meanings as there are sex workers…

The Enlightenment Police (#884)

The European Court of Human Rights just keeps kissing racists’ arses:

Businesses can sack Muslim women wearing the hijab headscarf if they work face-to-face with customers or if [other employees are racist shitheads who whine to the boss], the EU’s highest court has ruled.  The decision…w[ill encourage thuggery] at a time when [European] countries, such as France, are [wallowing in racism under the pretext of “]combat[ting] extremism[“]…

Working From Home (#1079)

The biggest problem with working through someone else’s platform:

[When] users…viewing their content then get…refunds via fraudulent chargebacks…[it is] the creator, not OnlyFans, [who] is [forced] to reimburse the money…despite the scammer already having accessed their content…OnlyFans [seem to feel it’s enough that] a User can only chargeback once and then they are blocked from the platform…

When I had my escort service, we had a separate “NO REFUNDS” form on which the girl entered the client’s driver’s license and required his signature; if he attempted a chargeback, sending a copy of the form to the credit card company would stop that shit.  It seems there should be some analogous practice for online porn purchases.

I Spy (#1098)

Anyone who doubts that politicians are deranged megalomaniacs should be following this:

…during a…late-night session, the European Parliament approved…a…set of “chat control” measures making it legal for internet companies to scan all private messages by users if they [pretend] they are looking for Child [porn]…EU [politician] Birgit Sippel described the measures as “a compromise between [government’s desire to pry into every single aspect of human existence] and protecting users’ privacy”…[but] did not specify what part of this “compromise” does anything to protect users’ privacy…Patrick Breyer, whose Pirate Party led the opposition to the measures, [said] that “chat control will allow email, messaging and chat providers to indiscriminately search your private messages for allegedly illegal material and report to the police, using error-prone algorithms”…

A Broker in Pillage (#1101)

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

…Maine repealed its civil forfeiture laws [last week]…join[ing] Nebraska, New Mexico, and North Carolina as the fourth state t[o end]…one of the most serious assaults on due process and private property rights in America today…the bill…only [allows the state to steal property without prior conviction] in a few narrow [circumstances]…death, deportation, or if the defendant fled or abandoned the property…Just as critically, LD 1521 closes the “equitable sharing” loophole.  Through this program, state and local police collaborate with a federal agency or joint task force, and outsource forfeiture litigation to federal prosecutors [in return for] 80 percent of the [loot]..

The Implosion Begins (#1145)

I’m really enjoying US newsmedia’s panic over the natural, predictable development of the hysteria they profited from for two decades:

In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat and the disappearance of the anonymous online account “Q” that once served as QAnon’s inspiration, many people who spout QAnon’s [version of the popular “sex trafficking” mythology] have hatched a new plan: run for school board or local office, spread the gospel of Q, but don’t call it QAnon….In June, the [NEA whined]…that “[Trump]ists and [others who adopted our favorite hysteria] are winning local elections.  And their new positions give them a powerful voice in everything from local law enforcement to libraries, trash pickup to textbook purchases [just like every other politician].”  These moves signal an important evolution for the QAnon [develop]ment…[of fantasies about] societal conspiracies of child abuse [which have been popular with politicians, cops, and the news media since the beginning of the century]…

To Molest and Rape (#1149)

Notice how often predatory cops’ victims are underage?

A [typical and representative] Florida [cop] has been sentenced to serve ten years in prison…[for] forcing two teenagers…to remove all their clothes and then run naked in front of him…Michael Martinez…was[n’t even] fired [until a] year after the [crime]…in August 2016.  Martinez [had] pulled over [his victims using the pretext of] a traffic stop…[and used their] alcohol and marijuana [to threaten them, even trying to get]…a hand job from…[the female victim, Remy] Riley…

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All moral panics blend real societal problems with the cartoon version.  –  Michael Hobbes

The Widening Gyre (#792) 

Trying to prop up the “Facebook pimps” myth with bogus “studies”:

…re[scue industry profiteers pompously branding themselves]…the Human Trafficking Institute [claimed] “The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and…Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims”…[a bogus government] report showed that 30 percent of all victims identified in federal sex trafficking cases in the past two decades – since 2000 – were recruited online…and 65 percent of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook…

Blunt Instrument (#998)

The government’s latest sleazy trick: attacking with civil suits rather than criminal charges, because the burden of proof is reversed:

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a civil lawsuit against an [Asian] massage business…in St. Louis County.  The lawsuit [is based in the “evidence” that] Royal Day Spa…has its front windows covered and that it’s open late…[cops made pretextual] traffic stops…[of] three [men, threatening them with nuisance charges to get them to parrot] Schmitt’s [racist claims]…about the…Spa.  Schmitt [masturbated furiously while vomiting out moronic phrases such as]…dark underworld…modern-day slavery…and…human trafficking in illicit massage businesses…[he also shared his shockingly-racist sex fantasies about how all Asian women are stupid and ignorant and need white men to “rescue” and deport them]…

The End of the Beginning (#1015) 

Maybe we’re about to witness the beginning of the end of these evil laws:

The S.C. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the state’s lifetime sex offender registration requirement is unconstitutional and people who demonstrate a low risk of reoffending should be able to petition a judge to have their names purged…[until now] South Carolina [has] provide[d victims ofthe law]…no recourse to seek relief from a judge…Brooke Burris…a…Human Trafficking [fetishist, vomited out a lot of ugly nonsense about the so-called]…victims [of public urination or consensual teen sex]…

A Broker in Pillage (#1038)

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

In February…almost eight years after the state of Indiana s[tole] Tyson Timbs’ brand-new Land Rover over a drug crime, prosecutors argued that…the government should…be free to take everything you’re worth.  [Last week], the state’s highest court categorically rejected that…Chief Justice Loretta Rush likened the government’s chutzpah to “Captain Ahab’s chase of the white whale Moby Dick”…[But] Indiana p[oliticians haven’t yet learned their lesson]…also in February…the Indiana Senate passed a bill to [rob] people [cops accuse] of [attending] “unlawful”…protests…

The Implosion Begins (#1075)

I did not foresee that the “sex trafficking” moral panic would implode in such a spectacular and entertaining fashion:

…the women who share…pastel, mom-washed #savethechildren posts [don’t c]are that they [a]re spreading Q propaganda…The statistics [they] share…have been repeatedly and publicly debunked by NGOs…[and] researchers…But [they think that]…doesn’t matter…They [also follow]…Tim Ballard…of the Utah…rescue [industry] group Operation Underground Railroad…[who] has [prom]oted…the child sex trafficking panic [even in its most unhinged aspects].  As the Wayfair h[ysteria] took off [last] July, he released a video…claiming that “children are sold that way” and that “law enforcement will get to the bottom of it.”  Since then, the organization has publicly [distanced itself from] QAnon…But, at the time, Ballard [continues to claim] child sex trafficking is a growing global crisis…

See also “Served Cold” below.

The Cop Myth (#1118)

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

A Garda…sexual assault[ed his girlfriend], threaten[ed] to kill [her] and [exercised] coercive control…in a “grand scheme” to control her life…He was charged with 35 offences…includ[ing] four counts of assault…two [of] sexual assault…10 [of] criminal damage…a threat to kill, endangerment of life, four thefts, coercion…[and] harassment…the woman…was punched in the face, grabbed by the neck, held against the floor and…choke[d]…he pulled her hair out by the roots and kicked her on the ground…the…harassment…[included] 65,000 phone messages…a number of [which included] a threat to kill…her…

Served Cold (#1138) 

The schadenfreude is so very sweet:

[Prohibitionist actor] Jim Caviezel appeared [at a conference] in Oklahoma…to promote his newest role, in which he plays Tim Ballard, the founder…of the [rescue industry] group Operation Underground Railroad, [with “sex trafficking” fetishist Mira Sorvino as his wife]…there…he…[also] promoted…the…QAnon [branch]…of [“sex trafficking” hysteria, which]…was awkward at best for OUR, which has spent the better part of a year insisting that it…is not affiliated with…QAnon…[despite] Ballard…[himself endorsing the belief last summer]…After years of success…OUR[‘s]…carefully-crafted image is coming undone…several people have been interviewed about their dealings with OUR not just by [a Utah prosecutor], but by the FBI…IRS and Homeland Security…among the matters being looked into are whether OUR operators have [raped people they branded] human trafficking victims…and whether OUR has committed human trafficking itself…

QAnon weirdness is not especially extreme from an organization which gets “tips” from psychics and has claimed that “pimps” use magic padlocks to trap doll-like girls in cages.

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I find it more than a little bit amusing that so many people get so bent out of shape by the Babylon Bee.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a satirical news site like The Onion, but with a conservative Christian bent, not-unlike the way Reductress has a feminist bent.  A lot of the Bee‘s articles have too pronounced a Christian bias to be funny IMHO, and some of them are flat-out offensive (especially the ones springing from anti-abortion or pro-cop propaganda), but a lot of the time they’re quite funny; furthermore, similar caveats apply to The Onion, Clickhole, Reductress, National Lampoon, and even MAD.  Satire isn’t easy, which is why there aren’t half a dozen “Weird Al” Yankovics out there; one has to be able to gauge which topics deserve to be lampooned and then do so in a manner that is both smart and funny while not alienating one’s core readership.  Sometimes a parody works and sometimes it doesn’t, and if there were a sure-fire formula for predicting a hit every creator in every creative genre would be a smashing success.  But while there are a lot of legitimate criticisms of satirical news sites (including some I’ve made myself) in general, and no site can possibly amuse all of the people all of the time, there seems to be a very peculiar animus against the Babylon Bee in particular despite the fact that it’s not unfunny, offensive or just plain dumb any more often than any of the others.  Once-reliable fact-checking site Snopes has repeatedly “fact checked” obviously-absurd Bee stories, despite admitting that they are clearly labeled as satire, justifying the practice with inane statements like “Some readers didn’t see much humor in the post” (a claim that could be made about every joke in every satirical poem, book, magazine, TV show, or website ever created since at least the time of Petronius).  And The New York Times actually “reported the site publishes false information ‘under the guise of satire’ when the site openly admits that it’s satire.”  I mean, here’s the top thing on their “about” page:
There’s nothing wrong with just saying a humorous website, show, magazine, or whatever doesn’t appeal to you; I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live since the original cast left, and there were some Kids in the Hall sketches that I found revolting.  And sooner or later the Bee will probably print some dumb anti-whore thing that’ll piss me off enough that I’ll be done with them, too.  But even then I won’t repeatedly expend effort criticizing them as though they were Michael Moore presenting propaganda as fact, and doing so makes the Times, Snopes, et all look like clueless puritans with a stick so far up their arses it’s coming out from between their teeth.  Which, come to think of it, they basically are.

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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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There’s no public safety value in prosecuting these low-level offenses.  –  Marilyn Mosby

Policing Womanhood

Scratch a SWERF, find a TERF:

In a t[oxic] essay for the [carceral] feminist website 4W, Donna M Hughes wrote that the “belief” that a person could change their gender was a “trans-sex fantasy”.  She went on to equate followers of QAnon, [the latest form of the “sex trafficking”] web of lies that [Hughes vigorously supports]…to people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were given at birth…Her inflammatory comments were called “beyond the pale” by Annie Russell, the director of the [University of Rhode Island]’s Gender and Sexuality Center…Russell said the diatribe had also angered students at the university, which [also employs Hughes as a tenured professor]…The University…put out a statement distancing itself from Hughes’s comments…In response Hughes said her right to free speech was being trampled [even though she was neither fired, nor censored, nor arrested as she wants others to be]…

For those who don’t recall: Hughes considers herself a political conservative and was the architect of recriminalizing sex work in Rhode Island in 2009.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#845) 

I haven’t seen this once-popular fantasy since 2018:

A recent 60 Minutes+ episode cites a dubious claim that “up to 100,000” children are sex-trafficked in the U.S. each year…the inimitable Maggie McNeill once wrote that there are “lies, damn lies and sex trafficking statistics.” Now 60 Minutes+, a streaming version of the venerable news program, is helping to make McNeill’s point by highlighting an oft-debunked sex trafficking factoid…in the show’s March 21 episode, “Taking Facebook to Court”…

Social Distancing (#1025)

When this was announced a year ago, prohibitionists claimed it would be a disaster:

…[When] the coronavirus pandemic hit…State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced that [Baltimore] would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the deadly virus.  And then crime went down in Baltimore.  A lot…This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city’s criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby’s office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants…So…Mosby is making her temporary steps permanent …Baltimore…will continue to decline prosecution of all drug possession, prostitution, minor traffic and misdemeanor cases, and will partner with a local behavioral health service to aggressively reach out to drug users, sex workers and people in psychiatric crisis to direct them into treatment rather than the back of a patrol car…

Let’s hope this “aggressively reaching out” doesn’t involve surveillance or “diversion”, which is just another form of state control.  But in any case, this is becoming a trend.

Welcome to the Future (#1107)

Everything I read about modern corporate work makes me happier I became a whore:

Amazon delivery drivers nationwide have to sign a “biometric consent” form…that grants the tech behemoth permission to [monitor]…drivers’ location, movement, and biometric data.  If the…drivers…refuse to sign these forms, they lose their jobs.  The…[surveillance includ]es…facial recognition…The company [claims the surveillance is] being used to improve “safety” and the “quality of the delivery experience.”  But…some drivers are quitting their jobs…because…the [surveillance device even records]…when a driver yawns, appears distracted, or isn’t wearing a seatbelt…and monitor[s] drivers’ body and facial movements…

Torture Chamber (#1122)

If only there were a concise word for “systematically forced to have sex”:

The [murder] of a 19-year-old woman [by] Venezuela[n] police [in a] holding cell has revealed that women in the jail were being systematically forced to have sex with [cops]…On March 13, Daniela Geraldine Figueredo Salazar died from [being]…shot [in] the face…by [a cop]…several of her fellow [prisoners] reported [to investigating officials] that they were being [systematically raped]…the…abuse was being coordinated by a [typical and representative cop] who is also currently jailed…This is not the first [time news] of sexual violence [has leaked out of] the country’s [filthy cage stacks]…In 2018, it was reported that women in Venezuelan prisons were being forced to [submit to rape] in order to be released for court hearings…in 2019, a report by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights pointed to…various forms of sexual violence [committed by cops, screws and spooks]…

You Were Warned (#1124)

Cathy Reisenwitz examines a power-hungry politician’s lies about the internet:

…The SAFE TECH Act would…hold companies liable for their users’ behavior…[an]d force small websites to spend $1 million or more…to prove to courts that users aren’t causing any one of nine new types of broad, ill-defined harm…Only the wealthiest, most powerful companies would be able to afford setting their own content moderation policies.  Everyone else would run the real risk of being sued into oblivion by wealthy people who don’t like what people are saying about them online…Like SESTA/FOSTA, the SAFE TECH Act would make it easier for those in power to stifle unpopular speech across the web.  It would strip away Section 230 protections for any web service that “has accepted payment to make the speech available.”  While many believe the law applies only to paid advertising, it’s written so broadly that it would apply to all content on any platform where money changes hands, including…all paid web hosting and even nonprofits or activist groups that sell merch or accept donations…

Predictable Consequences (#1124)

My friend Kate Zen, cofounder of Red Canary Song:

While it’s easy to repudiate th[e Atlanta shooter]’s actions as that of a monster, he isn’t alone in his views.  Many Americans feel only disdain toward these businesses, and have little respect for the women who work there…On Piedmont Road in Atlanta, where Long shot customers and workers at Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa, church groups previously gathered to protest this so-called red-light district, demanding the shutdown of the sex shop across the street…many Asian street-based sex workers…in [Red Canary Song’s] outreach said some of the religious anti-trafficking groups…can be even more hurtful than the pedestrians who call them names…[besides] collaborat[ing] with police…[one said] they were “nagging her and wasting her time” when she needed to work…Long’s extreme actions are a consequence of the way we treat all sexuality in society…and…the people who are tasked with undoing the harms are often infected by the same dangerous ideas…

Dr. Elena Shih also works with Red Canary Song:

…anti-trafficking organizations…have [repeatedly] called for the increased surveillance and policing of massage businesses, and the result has been hundreds of raids across the country which have terrorized and criminalized massage workers.  These systemic forms of violence cannot be divorced from the brutal killings of massage parlor workers in the Atlanta area on March 16…When my colleagues and I talk to Asian massage workers, they often share stories of [cops] entering their workplaces at random under the guise of stopping sex trafficking.  When they don’t find any evidence of wrongdoing, they demand to see massage licenses.  Workers tell us they are frequently arrested if they don’t produce a license, or are hit with building code or public health violations.  Those who are arrested are often funneled through special courts and programs where workers, seen as morally flawed and traumatized victims, are offered programming framed as rehabilitation…[including] everything from religious proselytization to “recovery-focused yoga” to unpaid labor, when what they really need is economic security…

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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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All too often, human tragedies are wholly predictable.  Busybodies, control freaks, and social engineers, in and out of government, create an elaborate propaganda narrative around people and things they want to control, and then some weak-brained individual or gang (usually young, male, and maladjusted), with or without magic government costumes, go out and inflict violence on strangers (usually minorities of one kind or another and often female) using that propanda narrative as an excuse and framework.  Then those with blood on their hands start victim-blaming or otherwise pointing fingers at others, while politicians use the tragedy as an excuse to increase state power and violence, and the hopelessly clueless wring their hands and cry, “How did this happen?”  This formula, with few variations, has repeated itself throughout history on a smaller or larger scale.  Sometimes the tragedy is so awful the instigators are hoist with their own petard and public opinion turns against them and in favor of the people they’ve worked so hard to demonize, but more often the dimwits continue to believe the opportunists’ lies and the violence simply grows more deadly and general.

The tragedy at hand exploded on Tuesday of last week at three Asian massage parlors in greater Atlanta:

[Robert Aaron Long] targeted th[ree massage] businesses because he had “issues” with sexual addiction and had been planning to commit more shootings before he was captured…Long…targeted businesses that he had been to before…A total of eight people were killed and another was injured…The shooting began just before 5 p.m…at Young’s Asian Massage…Two Asian women, one white woman and one white man were killed inside the spa.  Another man…was walking out of the store next door when he was hit by a bullet.  He was rushed to the hospital…[Long] then drove into the city of Atlanta, where he…killed [three people] at Gold Spa and one…at Aromatherapy…all four [of those] were Asian women…Long was on his way to Florida to carry out more shootings [presumably at other parlors he had previously patronized, but his]…family [recognized him from publicized surveillance images]…and [gave cops his phone number so they]…were able to track his phone…and…[stop him by ramming his] car…Long [has already] confessed to the shootings…[saying] he blames the massage parlors for providing an outlet for his [imagined] addiction to sex…[he] said…he wanted to “eliminate the temptation”…

Of course, politicians, cops, and others who have promoted hysteria around sexuality in general and paid sex in particular for this entire century so far don’t want you to think too hard about their role in spreading the manure that this evil took root in, so they’re trying to frame the attacks as based in race-hatred rather than the obvious (he didn’t shoot up nail parlors & Asian restaurants) and self-admitted motive of whore-hatred.  Lest you are tempted to give that narrative even a particle of credence:

Robert Long…had attended rehab for sex addiction and felt extreme guilt about his sexual urges, two former roommates said…Long has…[admitted] he committed the shootings because he [imagines he] has a “sex addiction” and wanted to eliminate his temptation…Tyler Bayless…spent months living with Long in an Atlanta halfway house named Maverick Recovery [a year ago]…He said Long was being treated for [so-called] sex addiction and felt an overwhelming sense of guilt over visiting massage parlors “for explicitly sexual activity…[which] he…[called] ‘relapses’…He would have a deep feeling of remorse and shame and say he needed to return to prayer and to return to God”…Bronson Lillemon, a second former housemate of Long’s, echoed Bayless’ account…Both housemates [said] that they never heard Long use racist language and had no knowledge that he ever visited racist message boards online…

Some media outlets appear to understand that this is about sex work rather than broad racism or misogyny, but want to shift the blame for creating Long’s sick weltanschauung from their aggressively-promoted mythology to the victims; this strategy is so utterly vile I’m not even going to quote it, but here are three examples, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Washington Post, and the arch-prohibitionist New York Times.  Instead, here are quotes from three articles by people who actually know what they’re talking about:

Cathy Reisenwitz:

…By perpetuating the myth of sex addiction and conflating sex work with sex trafficking the anti…sex worker movement has convinced men that they’re not responsible for their behavior and that sex workers…aren’t deserving of basic human dignity…“The modern sex addiction dialogue doesn’t encourage people to understand, accept and manage their sexual desires,” Dr. David Ley said of the attack. “Instead, it teaches people to hate”…By pushing the sex addiction myth, anti-sex worker, Evangelical groups like ExodusCry, [Morality in Media], and Polaris teach men that they aren’t in control of their sexuality.  Rather…the[y]…teach people, especially men, to feel ashamed of and hate both their own sexuality and the people and media they find sexually arousing.  They teach men to blame sex workers for their own feelings and behavior…Polaris, for example, spends millions pushing racist stereotypes.  Their express purpose is to use state violence to deprive Asian massage owners and workers of their businesses and jobs…

Tracy Quan:

…Despite my Asian background, I find [Long’s] disavowal of racism strangely credible.  Like a lot of people, I’ve experienced bias and ethnic profiling, but I’ve also been a sex worker, and I have encountered more prejudice, more name-calling, more fear, anger and hostility in connection with my sex work than regarding my race…Mainstream Americans, including many Asian Americans, are quick to blame racism yet unready to discuss an older hatred — what my French friends call “la putophobie” (a term more pleasing to the eye than the clunky compound “whorephobia”).  It’s the last acceptable form of hate speech…Speculation about the spas…is fed by prejudice.  Amplified by so-called antitrafficking voices, this prejudice is dangerously toxic.  Fueled by religious fanaticism and illiberal forms of feminism, by punitive laws and tabloid headlines, this bias breeds self-loathing in young men who should be learning how to nurture, not extinguish, the varieties of human connection…

Religion writer Chissy Stroop:

…The moment I read that [Long] was the son of a youth pastor who told police he had a “sex addiction”…According to [psychologist Joshua] Grubbs…“conservative religious values are strongly linked to feelings of sex addiction…men…interpret normal sexual urges as pathological and then act on them in ways that they find to be problematic”…In evangelical…churches and…schools, discussions of sex are usually steeped in purity culture…a complex of beliefs and practices associated with an unhealthy fear of sexuality and intense pressure to remain…sexually inexperienced…before marriage…victims of…sexual assault in evangelical communities are often blamed for “tempting” the perpetrators…

I’ll leave the last word for Red Canary Song, the Asian sex worker organization; if you feel moved to donate to help the victims’ families, you can find links to do so at their website.  There’s also an NPR interview here, and as usual, further updates will appear in subsequent news columns under this heading.

…We are concerned that many of those calling for action in this moment have and will continue to endorse violence towards Asian sex workers [and] massage workers…We reject the call for increased policing in response to this tragedy…[and] rising anti-Asian violence…Policing has never been an effective response to violence because the police are agents of white supremacy.  Policing has never kept sex workers or massage workers or immigrants safe.  The criminalization and demonization of sex work has hurt and killed countless people — many at the hands of the police both directly and indirectly…Asian massage workers are harmed by the criminalization of sex work, regardless of whether they engage in it themselves.  Decriminalization of sex work is the only way that…anyone criminalized for their survival and/or livelihood will ever be safe…

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