Just as they did a year ago with craigslist, a bunch of politically grandstanding States Attorneys General- cheered on by an overbearing, vociferous gaggle of anti- prostitution zealots and their sycophants from the far left and the far right- got together and wrote a letter to the owners of backpage.com, demanding that the adult ads on their classified website be shut down “to stop sex trafficking.” Despite the fact that they don’t have a constitutional leg to stand on, these blowhards decided they must force the closure of the adult ads section in this and any other online adult ad classified advertising site.
Although there are numerous other sites which cater solely to the adult crowd seeking other adult$ for adult activity, such as RentBoy- where virulently anti- gay Christian Psychologist Reverend George Rekers found his young stud travel companion for his trip to Italy- and countless other similar sites, it does not appear that these Attorneys General have much interest in pursuing those sites because many are for gay commercial sex and it is not politically correct to prosecute gays for the same ‘crimes’ they prosecute heterosexual adults. Governments and religious institutions throughout history have attempted to eradicate what many call a scourge (but many others like me feel it is the best job we ever had), but none have been successful even when the punishment faced by those who violate the law is death. So what motivates these particular politicians to attempt to “eliminate” all prostitution at whatever cost?
There are a number of studies which support the premise that the more vocal one is in denouncing another’s ‘immoral’ activities and demanding that they cease, the more likely it is that such a loudmouth is engaged in the very activity that he/she condemns. It is a cliché that sanctimonious politicians pontificate on the importance of family values while having extra-marital affairs, buying the services of a prostitute (underage and adult) or sending text messages to persons who are not their spouses; the vociferously anti- gay politicians and preachers who secretly engage in homosexual relationships. When it is a female politician, look for her husband to be a client of prostitutes, like U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D. Michigan).
Considering the enormous pressure being exerted on backpage.com -and craigslist a year ago- if one were cynical, one might think that those who are the most vocal in their demands to shut down adult ads because of the possibility that those ads are for prostitution- are being blackmailed or extorted by those abolitionists. Consider that Eliot Spitzer, who, as New York’s State Attorney General, passionately denounced the evils of prostitution as he vigorously enforced laws against prostitution by day and paid for his ‘sex slaves’ by night... in some cases going out of state and violating the Mann Act, a federal crime called ‘sex trafficking.’ Spitzer rose to governorship on the back of political reform and cleaning up corruption. According to many sources, his was a ‘scorched earth’ policy when it came to prosecuting white collar crimes. One target of his wrath were ‘prostitution rings’ against which he had publicly vented with “revulsion and anger announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a select prostitution ring” in 2004. He dispatched his brand of justice in short order and sent them to prison. In hindsight one could speculate that his show of revulsion and anger came not from a sense of moral repugnance at the thought of paid sex professionals but that the ‘select prostitution ring’ he targeted had perhaps been too selective and refused his business in the past? Or did he feel a sense of pride at being able to prosecute the competition of those who did provide him with their sexual services?
Or perhaps the abolitionists knew of Spitzer’s indiscretions and used that information to extort him to be aggressive in prosecuting others who engaged in buying or selling sex? There is no doubt in my mind that if he had not been caught with his pants down, he would be joining the other politicians in their strident crusade to shut down adult ads. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that perhaps some or many of the signers of this letter are in a similar position. History - both distant and recent- suggests that this may be the case...
In July 2011, a high ranking Alburuerque Criminal Judge, Pat Murdoch, was arrested for raping a prostitute. It was not the first time he had hired a sex worker, because the prostitute he hired admitted to previous engagements with the judge. And surely the police were aware of his activities with prostitutes, which may explain why, in 2009, he was so lenient toward an Albuquerque Police Officer -David Maes- who was also charged with raping a prostitute. Thoughtfully, after Maes plead ‘no contest’ to the charges, District Court Judge Pat Murdoch said “sending him to prison would be a harsh sentence for an ex-cop” and gave him 5 years probation. After Judge Murdoch was charged with raping a prostitute, he resigned, and most likely none of his colleague judges will impose a prison sentence on him, knowing that when and if they ever get caught doing the same thing, they will want leniency from the judges who oversee their cases.
Judges like Federal Judge Jack Camp... or Judge Michael Hecht... or Edward Nottingham, the chief federal judge in Denver, Colo. Despite the fact that an ordinary citizen charged with violating the same laws that Reagan appointee Judge Jack Camp did would have been sentenced to multiple years- perhaps decades- in prison, Judge Camp was allowed to retire at full pension, sentenced to 30 days in prison and 400 hours of community service. He served 15 days.
So back to the States Attorneys General- are they pursuing this because they are being extorted by the prohibitionists or because they really believe that shutting down adult ads is going to somehow stop human trafficking? Surely they are not that naïve, are they? Having been lawyers before they became prosecutors, they know exactly how things work and that prostitution was around long before the internet and will be around long after the internet shuts the sex workers out (or moves them to other websites).
They feign concern for the sexual exploitation of underage persons through the use of adult ads, commenting that “More than 50 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors on Backpage.com have been filed in 22 states in the past three years...”
But none of them mention that in 2011 alone, more than 100 cases of pedophile and child porn possessing police/ district attorneys/ judges were brought to court... NONE of those cases involved backpage.com or craigslist or any other classified website offering adult ads - just a bunch of perverted cops, judges, FBI agents etc. who had access to these young people because they are persons in authority whom no one suspects of diddling their children. These numbers do not include the teachers, preachers, priests, boy scout leaders, Hollywood producers and other persons who are trusted by the community and who do not find their victims on backpage.com. The US Government reports that 90% of the cases of child sexual exploitation are at the hands of someone the child knows, like the above cops, teachers, etc. and 68% of the cases of child sexual abuse are at the hands of a family member. So if, as the prohibitionists and their misinformed spokespeople suggest, there are between ‘100,000 to 300,000’ children trafficked into the sex trade every year, and if that represents only ten percent of the victims of child sexual exploitation from strangers, then the number of those sexually exploited by an acquaintance or family member must be in the millions per year. As I mentioned earlier, however, the US Government’s own report says that these hundreds of thousands of human trafficking (which includes adults and those trafficked into many other areas of labor) can’t be found, with all the millions of dollars that they spend and all the government funded agencies looking for them.
Tragically, as many cases as there are of the victims mentioned above, there is an even greater number of underage persons who are subjected to rape and sexual exploitation by persons in authority, and the government is quite aware of it and yet does little to prevent it. In fact, those juveniles are deliberately put in harms’ way at the insistence of the rabid prohibitions who claim they are ‘saving their lives.’
No doubt when the media reports that the FBI or other government agencies have ‘rescued’ dozens of ‘victims of child sexual trafficking’ during a sting operation (and arrest hundreds of adult prostitutes in the process), the general public envisions a militaristic style raid much like our armed forces conduct when they storm into an occupied country and free the enslaved citizens, who then jubilantly rally around our heroic soldiers with cries of gratitude. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth for the underage victims of sex trafficking. What the media and the government do not tell you is that ‘rescued’ means ‘arrested.’
When the cops and the feds - and for that matter, government agents anywhere in the world- conduct a ‘rescue’ raid, all persons of any age who are suspected of being prostitutes or of being ‘victims of sex trafficking’ are rounded up and herded into custody. Handcuffed. Chained to each other. Put into jail cells. Strip- searched. Treated like vicious criminals. And that is as it should be, according to some wonderful Christian ladies of the Georgia Eagle Forum, or as I like to call their national group- the “Spread Eagle Forum.” Women like Sue Ella Deadwyler, publisher of Georgia Insight, who stated- in opposition to the Republican Georgia state senator Renee Unterman who introduced a bill that would steer girls under the age of 16 into diversionary programs instead of arresting them as prostitutes- “Arrest is a valuable life-saving tool that must be used. We need to hire more cops to arrest the prostitutes.” She said that she believes that arrest is a better deterrent than a proposal for rehabilitation — no matter the age. “Sure there are those who are forced into prostitution, but I think most of them volunteer,” Deadwyler said of under 16-year-old prostitutes. “Many, many children have been scared straight because of arrest.” Of course.
One of her colleagues argues, “We cannot repeal the prostitution law for children, because that law acts as a very real barrier that protects children from sexual predators that would, otherwise, feel free to lure them into prostitution....Have we forgotten that correction oftentimes turns a life around?”
They aren’t the only ones who believe that arresting victims is actually good for them. Newser Staff writer Evann Gastaldo, wrote in her March 4th, 2011 article: “Why We Must Arrest Child Prostitutes IT MAY SOUND CRUEL, BUT IT COULD BE THE ONLY THING THAT SAVES THEM. Says she “Decriminalizing child prostitution (and not arresting them) means effectively ‘removing the only safe and secure protection these vulnerable children have from the pimps—being arrested and placed under the protective custody of law enforcement.’” And after one major ‘rescue’ of such victims, the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, stated “We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence.”
Umm, I wonder if either he or those nice Christian ladies or the States Attorneys General who are demanding the shut down of adult ads on backpage.com have read the US Government Justice Department’s own report on what happens to those children (and adult prostitutes) who are ‘placed under the protective custody of law enforcement...’- the report entitled “Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09”
As the May 5th, 2011 issue of the Economist states “Sexual abuse in prison is distressingly common: the Justice Department estimated that more than 217,000 prisoners, including at least 17,000 juveniles, were raped or sexually abused in America in 2008. A total of 12% of juvenile detainees... surveyed between 2008 and 2009 reported being forced into sex. And that is the number of people, not incidents; most victims are abused more than once. More inmates reported being abused by staff than by other inmates.” So we arrest the victims and put them in jail where they are raped by those who are supposedly protecting them from sexual predators... like themselves. And this of course will ‘turn their lives around’... actually it probably will; if this doesn’t mess up their heads and screw up their lives forever- after the well meaning Christian ladies and legislators tell them that it is for their own good to experience the trauma of being arrested and going to jail where they are raped by government agents in whose custody they are supposed to be safe, well, they would have to have an extremely strong character to survive the ‘rescue’ envisioned by these moral zealots.
Says Jamie Fellner,senior counsel for the US Program at Human Rights Watch, "The widespread sexual abuse of children in juvenile facilities shows that public officials either aren't paying attention or can't be bothered to do the right thing. The high rates of victimization are powerful testimony to the failure of governments to safeguard the boys and girls in their care."
Once again it should be noted that in none of the cases of more than 17,000 raped juveniles in 2008, did backpage.com or any other adult classified ads website play any part in their abuse. The government that claims to want to save them, however, did. As for the “More than 50 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors on Backpage.com have been filed in 22 states in the past three years...” these numbers pale in comparison to the number of juveniles who are either raped while they are “placed under the protective custody of law enforcement,” or by their local cop, boy scout leader, priest, preacher, or parent.
Are these States Attorneys General all completely ignorant of the findings and statistics from reports that our own government compiles and issues? If they are ignorant of the facts, they are dangerous people and they really ought not be overseeing the prosecution of anyone for anything. If they are aware of the facts and are ignoring them, what exactly is the motive for that? As I stated earlier, this isn’t about the children and never was. As one of the States Attorneys General, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna would like nothing more than to see backpage.com shut down its "escorts" section, just as Craigslist did in September. He commented, “Legal wranglings aside, it will take a cultural shift to change attitudes about prostitution.… People look at prostitution and think it’s a choice, but there are very few, if any, volunteers,” he said. What has that to do with “protecting children”? It is already against the law for adults to have sex with minors regardless of payment. It’s called statutory rape. If it is wrong for adults to have sex with minors because it is sexual exploitation, why on earth are we arresting them and subjecting them to worse horrors in jail? Would we arrest underage persons who are raped by priests? Or teachers? Would we arrest the teenage Explorer Scout victims of police officers who can’t keep their hands off the underage females in the scouting program?
“Volunteers”? These States Attorneys General want to shut down adult ads to ‘protect’ women because they may or may not “volunteer” to engage in prostitution? Why are we arresting them and putting them in harms’ way in jail where they are all too often forced to engage in sex with the corrections officers and jail guards? I don’t think they ‘volunteer’ to be the sex slaves of their captors!
What kind of precedent are we setting that our government officials would attempt to ban any labor that, in someone else’s opinion, is not done ‘voluntarily’? Are we now defining ‘forced labor’ as any work that someone would not ‘choose’ to do? How many women ‘volunteer’ to be housekeepers in low end hotels where they must clean up the vomit, feces and urine on the floor left by untidy guests? Even maids at high end hotels have to deal with unruly guests who may rape them- high powered guests like Dominique Strauss- Kahn.. How many women ‘volunteer’ to work as domestic servants, cleaning up after households in which the adult males may force their unwanted sexual attentions on them when the wives are not home? Are these States Attorneys General not aware of how many victims of human trafficking are forced into domestic service- in the US and around the world? According to some international reports on human trafficking, the number of women and girls who are forced into domestic service far outnumber those who are ‘trafficked’ into prostitution. Most child domestic workers are between 12 and 17 but some are as young as five or six. Does anyone believe that these children ‘choose’ to become domestic servants? Or the adults who also find themselves trafficked for the purpose of being a domestic slave?
Why don’t these politicians care as much about the “forced labor” of those who are so desperate for money that they must work long hours in factories, sewing garments (sweat shops?), picking fruits or vegetables or flipping burgers at McDonalds- as they “care” about supposed victims of ‘sex trafficking’? We arrest women whose only ‘crime’ is that they may not have ‘volunteered’ to work as escorts making $200 an hour or more but we don’t arrest their poor sisters who do not ‘volunteer’ to do menial labor earning minimum wage or less?
If these politicians were to be consistent in their crusade to save victims of human trafficking, they would demand that all classified sites, newspapers, magazines and other media outlets discontinue advertising help wanted for any type of labor (such as domestic service, garment manufacturing, agriculture) into which someone, somewhere in the world is trafficked. Truth be told, many if not most of those who champion for the arrest of prostitutes or their clients on the grounds that all sex work is modern day slavery, hire domestic help so that they can spend their time saving the poor exploited women and children trafficked into the sex trade. Do you think that Demi Moore and her boy toy spouse Ashton Kutcher scrub their own toilets and clean their own home? Are they not aware that in many countries around the world, domestic servitude it the primary destination for victims of human trafficking? Or do they just not care?
Unfortunately for sex workers, the US Government is only concerned about the human trafficking into prostitution. It is the US Government’s official position that all prostitution must be eliminated, at whatever the cost to those who, for whatever reason and in whatever manner that people make choices, are prostitutes. Regardless of the absurdity of their methods, the harm to those whom they say they want to protect, the US Government has decided that the next multi- billion dollar war against its citizens is the war against commercial sex. It will not be a pretty war, and just as in the other ‘wars’ against its “immoral” citizens, it will come at the cost of more of our liberties. In their view, what is the value of the first amendment when ‘women are selling their bodies’? Better that we let cops have laws which allow them to rape and extort the hussies! So let’s chuck the first amendment. Force newspapers and websites to kowtow to ‘our way of thinking’ or be put out of business. That amendment is a nuisance and in the way of all the other government programs to protect us from ourselves anyway.
From the The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, February 2005, Volume 8, Number 1 “Combating sex trafficking, then, is a complicated matter. The moral imperative to rescue women from brothels is compelling when young girls are involved or there is clear evidence of duress, but "rescuing" adult women from brothels against their will can mean an end to their health care and economic survival. In countries and situations in which basic survival is a daily struggle, the distinction between free agency and oppression may be more a gray area than a bright line. Indeed, the Center for Health and Gender Equity observes that sex workers who resist rescues may not do so because they would prefer commercial sex as a lifestyle, other things being equal, but because there are no ‘viable economic alternatives to feed and clothe themselves and their families.’ Conservative U.S. groups that have entered the larger discussion around trafficking through the issue of sex trafficking, such as the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America (CWA) and The Salvation Army, dismiss these complexities. Prostitution, as CWA asserts, is by definition "a form of slavery" and, as such, must be abolished. According to Jennifer Block, writing in Conscience, U.S. Ambassador John Miller, director of the State Department's Office of Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons, credits conservative organizations' acti
vism for the political momentum that led to the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in the final year of the Clinton administration. It is no surprise, then, that the Bush administration is interpreting and implementing the TVPA by placing a priority on combating sex trafficking and, by extension, abolishing prostitution.”
Oddly though, despite the fact that many radical feminists would like to skewer and pillory the customers of prostitutes, prohibitionists with a moral agenda do not seem to care at all about punishing the men who hire prostitutes- despite their claims to the contrary. There is clearly some other motive at work when a man like Eliot Spitzer can commit a federal felony of interstate trafficking and not only NOT go to prison for decades as you or I would if charged with that crime- but not even get arrested. Or when a man like Republican Senator David Vitter can confess to bizarre fantasies of dressing in diapers, and be re-elected by his conservative constituency - and Randall Tobias, the man in charge of doling out money to international AIDS organizations so long as they signed a pledge to not support decriminalization of prostitution.. gets to retire at full pension while Deborah Jeanne Palfrey, the madam who supplied him with women for his happy endings was convicted and facing 55 years in prison. And then there is former adviser to President Clinton, Dick Morris, who, after his prostitution scandal, becomes a commentary on Fox News.
I’ve already covered the kid glove treatment of Federal Judge Jack Camp and the Albuquerque Judge who sentenced to probation former Albuquerque cop David Maes who raped a prostitute. Heidi Fleiss client Charlie Sheen admitted to hiring prostitutes AND using drugs - as well as committing domestic violence on his spouses -on a regular basis and continued to be the top grossing television actor on CBS (until he annoyed the writer and producer of the hit show), while Heidi goes to prison. Previously unknown actor Hugh Grant had a momentary lapse of judgement and his indiscretion rockets him to stardom, his prostitute Divine Brown goes to jail. High profile Christian ministers Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, George Rekers, Eddie Long and other members of the clergy get caught hiring prostitutes, either deny their sexual indiscretions or exhibit sufficient remorse and go on preaching the word of the lord and continue raking in the dough from their understanding and tolerant parishioners.
When a NY teacher and former sex worker Melissa Petro outed herself in an article she wrote about her previous profession, a journalist who decided that Melissa didn’t have a right to be proud of her ‘shady’ past and still be a teacher, took matters in her own hands and forced the school board to “reassign” the ‘ho. Melissa is currently unemployed and unemployable. All the sentimental claptrap about ‘prostitutes having no choices’ as a reason to abolish our profession apparently means that if you are a sex worker who puts yourself through college to ‘better yourself,’ and you don’t express remorse about your sordid past and your past is exposed, society is going to make certain that you lose that job and then you won’t have any choices at all. As Melissa discovered, once you are branded a prostitute, no one wants to hire you.
We are also told that prostitution should remain illegal because it is a dangerous profession and there are unhinged outcasts of society out there who murder them, but when a woman gets arrested for prostitution, the local newspaper often prints or posts online the woman’s name, photo and in many cases, their home addresses, news sources such as Charleston, SC’s WCIV, Massachusetts’Lexington Patch, KSLA, Shrevesport, LA, Massachusetts’ metrowestdailynews.com, and also in Massachusetts- WaylandPatch.com, which on May 26, 2011, not only published the home address of a woman arrested for prostitution, but published a photo of her residence as well. Newspapers defend this practice because, they say, they print the names and photos of all persons arrested for a crime, except they do not publish the names and addresses of cops who rape prostitutes or who have sex with minors. But the prostitute is supposed to be the victim of sexual exploitation and while some prostitutes may welcome the free advertising to find new customers, it is disingenuous to say the least to assert that prostitution is dangerous on the one hand and post a photo of the home of a ‘suspected prostitute’ for a serial killer to find her without having to troll the streets looking for victims.
How much more evidence does society need to realize that neither the Federal Government or the States Attorneys General are in the least bit concerned for the well being of prostitutes of whatever age? Tell me again why these politicians are demanding that backpage.com close down its adult ads?