Canada’s real terrorism problem

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This mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, was spray-painted by xenophobic vandals. The town is home to an airbase from which CF-18 jet fighters recently departed en route to the war zone of Iraq. The people of Cold Lake have since banded together to clean up the graffiti while the police search for the perpetrators.

Oh, Canada. What’s happening to you?

You used to be such a nice place. Liberal. Socialist, even. And it worked out great for you while it lasted.

You used to be such a livable, lovable place. The country to the immediate south of us may have billed itself the Land of Opportunity, but when it came to real opportunities, we had them beat. Our social safety net ensured that no one got left too far behind by the ups and downs of the mixed economy.

Everyone who came here used to feel so welcome. We got immigrants from all over the world, and they helped make this the most diverse country on the planet. And the most multicultural. And the place where the most disparate people had a chance to coexist peacefully. From Vietnam War draft dodgers to Iraq War refugees, we’ve been enriched by the presence of people who were outcasts in their own lands. And the religious and ethnic clashes of the old country were left far behind, much to the relief and joy of all. Here, it didn’t matter who you were, what you were or where you came from; you were accepted. You were always at home.

And now I feel like a stranger in my own land, even though I was born here.

We seem to have caught terrorism-itis from south of the border. Everyone’s so paranoid now. Instead of waiting to learn what’s going on, we start jumping to false conclusions. The embarrassing truth leaks out too late every time.

Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.

The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.

In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at who these guys were, and how they acted.

Martin Couture-Rouleau was a convert to Islam; he converted only last year. He was not an immigrant. He was not even remotely an Arab, or Muslim by birth. His religious conversion appears to have arisen out of a growing heap of personal problems. Apparently he made enough radical-sounding noises that the RCMP was investigating him, and his passport was revoked, preventing him from travelling to Turkey (and presumably, from there, to Syria to join ISIL forces). He was alienated from his family, and everyone who knew him was bewildered by the recent changes to his personality. He was divorced, and his ex-wife was apparently frightened enough of him to seek sole custody of their child. It was not Islam that had made him that way, though; it was his own schizophrenia. His “radicalization” was concurrent with the worsening of his illness. And his own imam struggled in vain to dissuade him from supporting ISIL or taking up battle — or terrorism — on their behalf.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also not an immigrant, although his father was one (from Libya), and his mother a deputy chair at the federal immigration department. At school he was simply known as Mike Bibeau, the big, gregarious good-time guy voted most likely to succeed, especially with the ladies. But drug addiction shortly after his graduation from high school put an end to all that. He was known to police, but only as a petty criminal and drug abuser. His parents are long divorced, and bewildered as to what has become of him. Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was alienated from his family; his mother said she hadn’t seen him in five years. In that time, he had fled to BC, looking in vain to escape his addiction (which had shifted from marijuana and PCP usage to crack cocaine). He tried everything from religion to prison to cure himself. He wasn’t jailed long enough to keep him away from the dealers, and the imam of the mosque where he broke in at night to sleep on the floor locked him out. His religious fervor was a direct outgrowth of his efforts to replace one drug with another. At the time of his final desperate acts, he was homeless and so isolated from humanity that even at the Ottawa homeless shelter where he’d taken refuge, he was an outsider.

Neither man was connected to the other, nor to any known terrorist groups. Both were entirely isolated, and more so thanks to their respective mental conditions.

Meanwhile, our social safety net has eroded. Mental health services have faced severe cutbacks in all provinces. People who should have been hospitalized, as much for their own safety as anyone else’s, are instead left to roam the street, helpless and untreated. A few years ago, we were horrified by a beheading on a Greyhound bus; the killer, in that case, was a schizophrenic too, and should have been hospitalized. Not until he’d killed and partially eaten a complete stranger in the thick of a psychotic episode did he finally get the help he needed. If by “help” one means psychiatric incarceration, that is.

Six years after Vince Weiguang Li began his treatment, our mental health system has not improved a whit. It is still chronically starved of funding and professionals. The mental hospitals we so desperately need are still closed, with no new ones opened to replace them. The few still remaining have waiting lists a mile long. Those who can’t afford private counselling and rehab are shit out of luck.

And worse, we no longer have a federal long-gun registry. That’s right; a crime-fighting tool born out of a terrorist attack in Montréal was scrapped by the same wonderful Conservative party that’s also behind all the other rips in our social safety net! The police are thus officially hamstrung. Who knows if we’ll ever find out how Mike Bibeau, who was legally prohibited from owning firearms due to his criminal and drug record, managed to get his hands on the rifle that enabled him to kill Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the federal War Memorial?

Yeah, tell me the Conservatives are not the real terrorists in all this. They’re using the hysteria surrounding these events, even now, to push their own very anti-Canadian agenda. And the sad part is, too many people are all too happy to LET them.

Of course, salient facts like that have escaped the major media, or the myriads of know-nothings who pontificate in the comments sections of their websites. Most of them seem quite convinced that if we only shut our doors tightly enough, ramped up the security high enough, and went to war in enough foreign countries to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and “teach them a good lesson”, the “terrorist” problem would be best addressed. Never mind that neither of these guys was a foreigner, and that both in fact were born right here.

Or they’re all full of self-righteous Islamophobia, oblivious to the fact that in both cases, imams actually tried to deter these guys from taking the criminal turns they did. And oblivious, too, to the fact that Canadian Muslims are right on the same page with all the rest of us in condemning such attacks, and terrorism in general.

And above all, they’re oblivious to the role that a too-easy access to guns, and a too-hard access to mental health care, played in this whole goddamn mess. They simply cannot and will not see those connections, even though it doesn’t take a brilliant sociologist to draw them.

Oh yeah, and that’s another thing: We’re not supposed to commit sociology in times of terrorism, according to none other than Stephen Fucking Harper himself. Yes, that’s right…the tough-talking macho PM, who bravely, bravely hid in a broom closet while his underlings barricaded the door with spears made from flag poles!

But hey. At least the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, proved that his role is not merely ceremonial, even though his costume may be. Like René Jalbert many years before him, he was the one who engaged a confused, deranged gunman hellbent on wreaking terror. Unlike Jalbert, though, he couldn’t talk the shooter out of it; he ended up having to kill him. “Terrorist” crisis ended, either way.

And all this without recourse to war.

Now the PM’s security detail has modified its protocol so that they can enter the Commons chamber and protect him at all times. That’s fine; at least it doesn’t unduly curtail anyone’s civil liberties. Not so fine, however, is the legislation the government apparently passed on the same day as Martin Couture-Rouleau ran down Patrice Vincent in a fit of psychosis. We’re now facing intrusive, unconstitutional online surveillance under the pretext of “crime prevention”! Yay!

So, now you know. And if this is the last post you see from me, you’ll know why. I’ll have been arrested for committing the supreme terrorist act of daring to think un-conservatively and sociologically, and tying together all the things they don’t want us to understand are related. If you think Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were crazy (and they were, alas), you ain’t seen nothin’ . My own country just totally outclassed them in the losing-one’s-shit department.

And since it’s already at war in Iraq, too, it’s also outdone them in terms of real terrorism.

Evo’s new diplomatic sweet spot

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Whoa, Evo’s lookin’ good…and I’m not just talking about those stylish threads he’s wearing (although those, too, are fabulous). With over 60% of the vote in the latest Bolivian presidential election, he’s riding higher than ever, and by now, only a fool would doubt that he is very much THE leader of his land. And it looks like Washington is taking notice, too, because now there’s talk of re-established diplomatic relations:

Bolivian president Evo Morales says that respect for the sovereignty of the land and the goodwill of Washington are keys for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the United States, given that bilateral relations have been marked by political tensions since 2008.

Bolivia and the US plan to restore ambassadors. “It’s not that we don’t want a new ambassador to come, but that they respect Bolivia. We will respect each other,” Morales said in an interview with public media.

The ambassador should not come to impose, nor to finance political parties of the opposition, Morales added. He was re-elected last Sunday with 61% of the vote, to govern the Andean-Amazonian country until 2020.

A few days ago, the US embassy in Bolivia also expressed its desire to re-establish a relationship of “mutual respect” with the Morales government.

“We hope with interest to work with the government of Bolivia in areas of common interest, in order to establish productive bilateral relations based in mutual respect and shared objectives, for the well-being of the people of Bolivia and of the United States,” said the US chargé d’affaires, Peter Brennan.

Translation mine.

Bear in mind that the last US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, was a spy. He was caught on camera holding clandestine meetings with leading figures of the Bolivian opposition, including the prefects of the then “breakaway” departments of the so-called “Media Luna” (Half Moon, for their roughly crescent shape when taken together; also called “Nación Camba”, for its mostly-white populace). And there is ample evidence that everyone from USAID to the Peace Corps and even Fulbright Scholars (!) was involved in some political interference or other, all of it directed at sponsoring or supporting the right-wing opposition. It was a huge scandal, and it totally blew up in the faces of all involved.

At the time, Evo’s popular support was at a bit more than 50%, and it was thought that it wouldn’t take much to tip things the other way again, to the liking of Goldilocks’s superiors in Washington. Then, in April 2009, a fascist terror cell comprised of half a dozen or so foreign mercenaries and would-be machos, found to have ties to those same opposition politicos, was literally shot to pieces before it could kill Evo, his vice-president Álvaro García Linera, and their cabinet, and who-knows-who-all-else. They had fortunately missed a seemingly golden opportunity when Evo headed up a floating parliament on Lake Titicaca; the cell’s leader was caught on cellphone video moaning about how cool it would have been if only they could have blown that Bolivian navy vessel sky-high, with all the MAS government members in it. Instead, it was the terror cell that got blown up, in a hotel where they were holing up and plotting their moves. The cell’s leader was killed by federal police, along with a couple of others; a couple more escaped; the rest were jailed. And the Media Luna’s rogue prefects went on the lam, where they remain to this day. With that, the opposition got a harsh object lesson on what kind of political gambits will no longer play in Bolivia.

And now, with Evo’s vote count at over 60% and still climbing, Bolivia’s economy likewise on the up-and-up, and no more terrorists in sight, Washington seems to have no choice but to start showing some respect for The Little Injun That Could. So they’re talking of a new, more “mutually” respectful relationship. And it seems that Evo is very well situated to hold them to it.

But you can be sure that no one will be letting their guard down. The huge popular support Evo enjoys is the backing for a very wise, very shrewd and vigilant government, which has already proved its mettle at putting paid to old-style fascist putschist politicking…which, as always, had the backing of Washington. And if anything should happen to Evo, the revolt will make the dramatic response to the Venezuelan coup-flop of ’02 look like a pleasant day’s outing in the park. Bolivian workers, the miners and farmers in particular, have decades of experience in fighting back at any cost, and they are Evo’s key base of support.

Moreover, thanks to Cuban help, Bolivia is now fully literate, politically awake, and therefore that much harder to deceive. There will not be any more docile acceptance of Yanqui interference and military dictatorship, as there was in decades past. The people of Bolivia are prospering, but they are not so prosperous yet that they are totally unprepared to fight, if they must.

And if they must, they WILL.

Tuto Quiroga, butthurt loser

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Ladies and gentlemen, meet the loser of the recent Bolivian presidential election. He came in last, with single digits in the exit polls, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a dismal showing compared to Evo’s commanding lead. But hey! Why let a little thing like one’s own massive unpopularity deter one from uttering bitter and butthurt speculations about the undisputed winner, eh?

Exit polls proclaimed Evo Morales the victor at nearly 60% support. Last month, Tuto Quiroga announced, after learning that early polls showed six out of every ten Bolivians voting for Morales, that if it were true, he would eat his watch.

The official data up to now, with 57.4% of the votes counted, give Evo Morales the win with almost 55% support, followed by conservative businessman Samuel Doria Medina (28.6%) and Quiroga in last place, at 11.16%.

“We’ll see, there’s still time, but first let’s wait for the results,” said the opposition candidate during a press conference, assuring that he has enough tomato sauce, as well as llajua (a spicy sauce, typically Bolivian) to carry out his promise.

Now that the predictions appear to be coming true, many Bolivians are coming out with sarcasm on social media to demand that Quiroga keep his promise.

“That’s why Evo Morales wants 60%, to see me eat my watch,” said the ex-president, ironically.

On Tuesday, Quiroga also criticized the actions of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), as the organism took more than 24 hours to make public the official figures of the vote count due to technical problems and a supposed threat of computer sabotage.

Quiroga denounced the TSE as “servile” and “inefficient”, claiming that it is manipulating the results to “rob” the opposition and inflate the vote count for Morales in rural areas.

“Never in the recent democratic history of Bolivia has there been such a show of ineptitude, incapacity and inefficiency on the part of the electoral organism, which makes one think they are manipulating and ‘cooking’ the results,” maintained Quiroga.

[...]

It is the second time that Quiroga has been defeated by Morales in an election, as both leaders also contended in the elections of 2005, in which Morales became the first indigenous president of Bolivia.

Translation mine.

Poor Tuto. He’s been virtually irrelevant for the last ten years. During the 2005 election, which he lost to Evo, he resorted to scare tactics which proved to be empty. He put out ads with dramatic background music, in which actors posing as textile workers claimed that Evo’s win would scare off international buyers for their products. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Evo’s record to date has shown; even the IMF and the World Bank are praising him, which is pretty ironic since he sent them packing, figuring that homegrown solutions to reinvest gas revenues into the local economy (à la Chavecito) would do the trick better. And they did.

So now there’s nothing left for Tuto to keep himself relevant, except to snipe at Evo’s impressive results. 2005’s, for instance, was at the time the largest margin of popular support for any Bolivian presidential candidate, ever — and Evo’s support has only increased since then. And of course, to threaten to eat his watch.

Tuto, better stock up on hot sauce. And maybe a case of beer, too. You’re gonna need something to wash down those bitter, bitter words!

Estela de Carlotto in Ecuador: “We have to erase the word ‘dictatorship’ from the dictionary!”

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Guido Montoya, his grandmother Estela de Carlotto, and the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, meet at Carondelet Palace in Quito. This is the first trip abroad together for the grandmother and grandson, who are touring South America to raise awareness of the ongoing need to locate the hundreds of missing grandchildren still unaccounted for since the last Argentine dictatorship. Guido first came to light this past summer, after a DNA test identified him as Estela’s long-lost grandson. And while she was in Quito, Estela, who would know from dictatorships, had some choice words for the right-wing opposition and media who insist on calling the democratically-elected Ecuadorable One a “dictator”:

Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, was received along with her grandson on Tuesday by the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and pointed out the democratic character of the left-wing leader’s government.

“The word ‘dictatorship’ must be erased from the dictionary as long as there exists a president and authorities elected by popular mandate, whether we like it or not,” said Carlotto, when asked by journalists whether there was a “dictatorship” in Ecuador, or “totalitarianism”, of which the opposition speaks.

“In Argentina, the media monopolies are still criticizing the media laws, the same media monopolies who put rocks in the road. Those are bad people, they’re the ones who say that what our president does is dictatorship. the word dictatorship is uprooted from the language of the Argentines, and we hope it will be forever. I was born in 1930, was born in a dictatorship, grew up in a dictatorship, and I want strong democracies to be born for the children, to be of benefit to those who have the least,” said the emblematic Argentine woman.

The declarations came after the Ecuadorian president received Estela de Carlotto and her grandson, Guido Montoya, at the government palace. Montoya recovered his identity 37 years after his disappearance during the Argentine dictatorship. Both are in Quito and other touristic cities for a week, according to the Ecuadorian foreign ministry. It is Estela de Carlotto’s first international trip along with her grandson, who was identified last August.

During her visit to the government palace, Estela de Carlotto presented President Correa with a T-shirt bearing the legend: “We are all Guido, 37 years x identity.”

Guido, “Grandchild 114″ of those who recovered their identities, is the son of Laura Carlotto, who was kidnapped when she was three months pregnant, and later killed by the Argentine dictatorship. His father is Oscar Montoya, also killed, and buried in a common grave until his remains were identified.

“When President Rafael Correa realized that this woman had found her grandson, as did the people of Argentina, he didn’t hesitate to invite us. I won’t abandon this struggle as long as I’m alive, because there are still grandchildren to be found. In Ecuador we found a commitment to memory, truth and justice,” Guido Montoya said.

The grandson of the president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo turned up voluntarily to have his DNA tested because he had doubts about his identity. He was torn from his mother’s arms five hours after his birth in June 1978, and was registered under the name of Ignacio Hurbán as the son of a farming couple.

Guido said that he was very pleased with the invitation and with the show of solidarity with the more than 400 still-missing grandchildren.

Estela de Carlotto praised the Latin American unity expressed in organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). “The found grandchildren, the grandmothers, all of us are striving for Latin American unity. We rejoice in being in countries which recently began their journey toward the truth. Don’t slack off, don’t let your arms fall,” she concluded.

Translation mine.

So there you have it. A dictatorship? In Ecuador? Try and find it!

But then again, for the fascists of the world, the irony is that they can never accept democracy, as long as it keeps electing popular, progressive leaders. Which is why, in so many countries (including those of South America), they keep trying to stage coups d’état against leaders they call “dictators”. Fortunately, they are failing badly at that — and the reason is simple. The people, not being stupid, can see right through that rhetoric, down to its ironic bone.

Open Carry gunbunny gets jacked

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Think you’ll be safer if you’re toting a firearm in plain sight? Think again. This “open carry” gun guy got robbed of his brand-new piece…at gunpoint:

A man practicing his open carry right was robbed of the gun he was openly carrying.

William Coleman III was robbed of his Walter- brand P22 just after 2:00 a.m. October 4 in Gresham by a young man who asked him for it — and flashed his own weapon as persuasion.

Coleman, 21, was talking to his cousin in the 17200 block of NE Glisan St., after purchasing the handgun earlier that day, when a young man asked him for a cigarette, police said.

The man then asked about the gun, pulled a gun from his own waistband and said “I like your gun. Give it to me.”

Coleman handed over the gun and the man fled on foot.

I’m guessing that the thief was NOT an Open Carrier. In that regard, he was smarter than his quarry.

So much for the idea that “an armed society is a safe society”, eh?

Robert Serra names his assassins

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Who says dead men tell no tales? Not I. And not the Argentine journalist Fernando Vicente Prieto, who wrote the following article for the Correo del Orinoco about the recently slain young Venezuelan deputy, Robert Serra:

It’s been 48 hours since they killed Robert Serra and, in the same criminal operation, María Herrera. Robert was a kid, a Venezuelan boy. He was a deputy for four years, and he was only 27. He was the youngest parliamentarian in Venezuela. His killers knew of his unwavering commitment, his firm and potent voice, because he represented the best of a revolutionary youth, prepared to go the full distance.

They thought they killed him completely in that cruel and, at the same time, perfectly rational act. They wanted to kill in him a generation, called by Hugo Chávez to the most difficult and beautiful task. But Robert Serra continues to speak after his death and from there, he points in his eternal gesture at the assassins. They wanted to kill him again and again, and on October 1 — sadly — they succeeded. But not completely.

Even though they killed him 48 hours ago in La Pastora, I turn on the TV and there’s Robert, talking again, and this time of his own death. He’s conversing on the show Zurda Konducta with other guys like him, some dressed like journalists. Robert is waving his hands and speaking clearly. He’s analyzing the moment of the Revolution, describing the job taken on by the youth after Chávez, and suddenly he begins to tell who assassinated him, why, and in what context.

“The country should observe what’s going on. Why was Álvaro Uribe Vélez the first one to come out in defence of Lorent Saleh? Because there are interests directly related, between the paramilitaries he personally directed and still directs in Colombia, and these despicable acts.”

“If we look retroactively at the fallen during the last guarimbas, [we see] a well-aimed shot to the head, with 9mm or high calibre bullets. A well-aimed shot. Not just any shooter has the ability to do that,” says Robert. “Let’s remember what happened in April 2002, with the coup against Comandante Chávez.”

And from that context, he comes back to talking about the present: “And look at this shameless Lorent Saleh, who says: ‘we have the diplomatic façade with this Operation Freedom’.” He is eloquently referring to the leader of Operation Freedom, one of the “peaceful students against Maduro”, as the private media call them.

“He says that, straight up, that crook says ‘we have the diplomatic façade of the altars of the defence of human rights’. And you see how when our state security corps come out to guarantee peace in the land, they are the ones who get converted into victimizers by the opinion shapers. I want to see CNN replay these videos that are coming out now. I want to see that woman-abuser Fernando del Rincón replaying that. I want to see Patricia Janiot. I want to see all of those who have initiated a media campaign against our country,” Robert insists.

He doesn’t stop; he keeps pointing out tactics and responsible parties. He recalls how the paramilitary groups planned to attack discos and bars in San Cristóbal: “Even their own guys,” he exclaims, “so that the social breakdown would be much greater.”

Later, he directly addresses Antonio Ledezma, the right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas. “I know you must be watching me,” he tells him. And reads one of many tweets Ledezma immediately put out to defend the paramilitary group.

He also reads out a tweet by María Corina Machado, which cynically affirms that “everybody knows what awaits Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles at the hands of the régime”. And Robert accuses: “No! Not everybody knows. You know it, shameless person, because you’re in the plan! You know it, Antonio Ledezma knows it, Leopoldo López knows it, and and Álvaro Uribe knows it, because they’re the ones who are in on the plan to destabilize our democracy. Now many of us know it.”

Robert looks into the camera. With his short, scrubby hairstyle, as always, and his neighborhood boy’s face, intelligent and naughty. Profound. Chavista. With all his life ahead of him. He thumps his chest and warns:

“And I’m certain, I’m certain, that in that macabre list I could be one of the names. Fine, let them do it. But it doesn’t matter. I’m certain that they plan to hold collectives and social movements responsible. What for? To generate the reaction that tells CNN that there is a ‘dogfight’ going on that they have set in motion for the gringos and other countries of the world to demonstrate that there is no governability here, that Nicolás Maduro doesn’t guarantee peace, and so the world’s police, the blessed gringos, have to intervene.”

And Robert goes on explaining, dead now but with his voice full of life: “We have to get to the root of this, my dear comrades. This was born at a party. I have the migratory register of many of them: how they came through Costa Rica, through Colombia, from where we denounce the so-called Mexican party. And what was the Mexican party? A party held in Mexico by a group of Venezuelan ex-bankers, fugitives from Venezuelan justice, who circulated instructions via a political operator named Gustavo Tovar Arroyo to unleash violence in our land.”

“I am convinced that they will banalize this denunciation tomorrow,” Robert continues. “They want to see the body of the president so they can say ‘Ah yes, the Chavistas were right’. And how will they banalize it? They’ll say that this is a smokescreen to cover up the problems of the land.”

The end of the program draws near. I hear [them read out] a tweet from a young right-winger which says: “I wish I had a pistol so I could shoot down all of those guys from Zurda Konducta.” Robert nods as if to say “exactly!” and says: “You see? This is a product of the hatred the right-wing has instilled.”

He adds: “Today history proves Nicolas Maduro to be right when he said: ‘Gentlemen, behind all of this lies the empire, and the hand of Álvaro Uribe’, who is thirsting for blood in Venezuela, a product of his failure in Colombia. He wants to destroy peace in our land and he has absolutely nothing to lose, because he doesn’t even have morality.”

Robert says goodbye. He talks about the importance of the 2015 legislative elections, in which the right-wing will try to take the majority so as later to deal a parliamentary coup, as in Honduras and Paraguay. “To win is to win well. Let’s build a majority with our people. What is at stake for us in the coming year will be the peace and the democracy of our land. Let us carry on the legacy of Hugo Chávez. If they ask this generation what our objective is, it’s not a term in office, comrade. It is to make irreversible the dreams of Hugo Chávez and his legacy in this homeland he built for us.”

Robert Serra. 27 years old. Young Chavista deputy. A revolutionary who never will be silent. Those who have ears to hear, let them listen. Because Robert is still speaking loud and clear.

Translation mine.

So we can see that there is, indeed, a veritable rogues’ gallery of usual suspects behind Serra’s death: El Narco Uribe, the failed ex-president of Colombia, and head of the paramilitary death squads to which Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles are now well known to have belonged. Antonio Ledezma, alias “Grandpa Monster”, the reviled right-wing metropolitan mayor of Caracas, and a well-known collaborator in all the violent opposition guarimbas there. And the bottom-feeding right-wing “leaders”, María Corina Machado, alias Maricori, and Leopoldo López, the pretty boy who’s still sitting in jail, safe and sound, awaiting trial for his part in the recent failed putsch against Madurito. And a bunch of bankers, fugitives from justice all, who absconded with money belonging by rights to the Venezuelan people, who are currently squatting in Mexico. Serra names them all. The only person he doesn’t name is the one who pulled the trigger on him. But it hardly matters. He knows who wanted him dead. And he knows that they had the power and the cash to hire a very cold, clever sharpshooter to do their dirty work, too.

And if you wonder why I’m still writing about him in the present tense, it’s because Robert Serra, like Chavecito before him and Che Guevara before him, is the kind of person who never really dies. He left so much of himself behind, even in his short existence on Earth, that it doesn’t matter anymore where his body is. His spirit is the kind that won’t be silenced so soon. And that irony will be the final joke on his killers, because they will fade from existence as nonentities, even though they succeeded — but only partially, as the author of the piece says — in killing him.

German psychologists and the scientific case against prostitution

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An 18-year-old Bosnian Muslim war survivor recovering after abortion of a rape-induced pregnancy, September 1992. Photo: Nina Berman, Sipa Press.

Even as German politicians are coming under heavy pressure from the local pimp lobby to do away with all laws around prostitution, another group of voices is rising up to join the opposition to that very wealthy and powerful force. They are trauma therapists who have worked extensively with women and girls in the trade, and what they have seen in the course of their careers is enough to convince them that prostitution is not, and never will be, a normal job for the vast majority of those who do it:

“Prostitution is in no way a job like any other. It is degrading, torturous, exploitive. On the side of the prostituted, there is a lot of horror and disgust at play, which they have to repress in order to get through it at all.” So says Michaela Huber, psychologist and head of the German Society for Trauma and Dissociation.

“In this system of prostitution, women are systematically put down, used, and degraded into objects.” So says Lutz Besser, head of the Centre for Psychotraumatology and Trauma Therapy of Niedersachsen.

“Prostitution has its roots in the violence that is done to children. And society must not block out or whitewash this violence!” So demands Susanne Leutner, vice-president of the trauma-therapists’ association, EMDRIA.

Leading German trauma therapists speak out sharply for societal awareness and support the “Stop Sex-buying” initiative. The organization, a coalition of citizens and centres of expertise, demands that johns be punished, in line with the Swedish model: “It is our goal, not to criminalize the prostituted, but to turn the focus on the johns, whose demand creates the market. They are actually responsible for the fact that increasing numbers of young women from the poorest countries in the world are brought to Germany to work in prostitution here.” Because “The reality of women in prostitution is being glorified or trivialized and ignored — and the sexual exploitation of women in this manner is being normalized and cemented.”

This offensive position in the treatment of traumatized persons by specialized therapists is, to put it mildly, a sensation. Among the therapists who have joined the initiative is Prof. Günter Seidler, head of psychotraumatology at the University of Heidelberg and a pioneer of German trauma research. “There are already more than enough psychologically traumatized people. The mental wounds of prostitution are avoidable,” says Seidler, one of the first 90 signatories of the EMMA appeal to do away with prostitution.

“Prostitution is violence, not a profession!” charges Prof. Wolfgang U. Eckart, director of the Institute for History and Ethics in Medicine at Heidelberg, in the journal Trauma and Violence. He argues: “Little is free in prostitution on the whole, and nothing in mediated prostitution. Because the striking asymmetry of power and the potential for violence in the relationship between the mediator and the practitioner generates in this oldest form of the enslavement of women constitutionally dependent relationships, which almost automatically deliver all the façades and backgrounds for the practice of traumatizing acts of violence of every sort.”

Dr. Ingeborg Kraus is the initiator of the therapists’ protest. The trauma therapist from Karlsruhe has dealt with victims of war rape in Bosnia, and after her return to the German trauma clinics, she realized: “Even here, every other female patient has experienced sexual violence.” At some point, Kraus got fed up with the “constant task of patching them back together”. She vowed: “I want to work preventively as well!” For her, too, the fight against prostitution is part of that. “In my long years of psychotherapeutic experience, I have accompanied prostituted women and learned their backgrounds. It thus became clear that prostitution was, in all cases, the continuation of violent experiences in their biographies.”

Michaela Huber can only confirm that, from her own therapeutic experiences and those of “many, many colleagues.” “Who even gets the idea to sell their own body? The prerequisite for that is to be alienated from one’s own body.” She continues: “You have to picture it: One has to let oneself be penetrated, again and again. One has to have practiced it, or one can’t do it. One leaves behind just a shell that can still go through certain motions, certain gestures.”

This beaming-oneself-away — dissociation, in specialists’ jargon — is forcibly learned, early on, by victims of violence. Not coincidentally, studies show that the majority of women (and men) in prostitution have suffered sexual abuse or other traumatic violence, eg. neglect, as children.

Traumatologist Lutz Besser demands a rethink of the acceptance of prostitution. He fears that “we are in danger of sliding into an Ice Age of ethics. Morality is one part,” says Besser. “But ethics also poses the question: What happens to another person if I do something?” This question, however, is one the johns don’t ask. “The men who go to prostitutes don’t realize that most of the women in this trade are doing so under pressure and duress. A society that legitimates that, demands the stance that prostitution is the most normal thing in the world,” says the therapist. “And it is a scandal that we as a society don’t have a clearer position on this!”

In Berlin, politicians are currently seeking advice. Not only as to how prostitution should be legally regulated; they will also decide how our society stands in regard to it: Whether prostitution should continue to be “a job like any other” — or whether prostitution goes against human dignity and destroys human beings. The signatory therapists hope that the politicians don’t just consign even more traumatized people to them, but finally take the side of prevention.

Translation mine.

I have often seen prostitution referred to not only as the “oldest profession”, but also likened to several actual professions: nursing, for one; various medical and psychological therapies, for another. Often the excuse is trotted out that “sex workers” serve a clientele which is disabled, and thus unable to form normal sexual and romantic relationships — an excuse that, to my mind, demeans the disabled as well as those tasked with disposing of their sexual needs. I know a fair number of disabled men who have happy relationships, and so are not reliant on prostitution — far more of them than of those of the other sort! Then there are the quite-able-bodied men who go to prostitutes because the women in their lives are disabled and they just can’t seem to get it up for them — a strange “disability”, that. And on top of that, the vast majority of johns are not disabled in the least, whether physically, mentally or even socially. They’re just lazy when it comes to seeing women as people, or treating them as something other than conveniences that might cost a couple hundred dollars at most for the kind of sexual servicing that a “regular” woman or girl, being the “sexually repressed bitch” that she is, won’t provide.

Considering that my own sister, a registered massage therapist whose job emphatically does not include rubbing anyone’s genitalia, has worked in clinics that had panic buttons installed in case a client came in expecting a different kind of massage, I find all talk of prostitution-as-profession to be something rather worse than a dirty joke. The creeps who wander into massage therapy clinics expecting bawdy-house prostitution are a real and constant menace to public safety. So are those who expect sexual servicing from nurses, or from women doctors. Such things are not on the list of training requirements in any actual health-related profession, no matter how much those who talk of prostitution-as-profession would like to blur that distinction.

My sister went through four years of specialized training at a pricey massage-therapy school. She even had to dissect preserved human cadavers in anatomy class. Nurses, too, require college or university degrees these days in order to advance professionally and be hired by hospitals. Some take Ph.Ds in nursing science, putting them on a level with actual medical doctors, as far as education and training goes. As for medical doctors, it’s not unusual to see one with a long string of degrees after their name. B.A., B.Sc., M.A., M.Sc., M.D., Ph.D., etc. At a bare minimum, it takes six years to graduate as an M.D. in Canada: two years’ university at the bachelor level (preferably in the sciences), followed by four years’ med school. (Something similar, I imagine, pertains to dentists and eye specialists.) And none of that time is devoted to learning how to sexually service a “client”.

This is what is meant and generally understood by a “profession”: A long period of training in a specialty that requires extensive and in-depth knowledge. And one is graduated with a certificate that states that this person is qualified to work as a physician, surgeon, nurse, dentist, optometrist, etc. Or as an assistant to any of the above. Or, like my sister, a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT).

What professional training and certification does it take to work in prostitution?

As far as I know, there is no real certification process for prostituted persons at all. Maybe, if one works in a country where some health regulations are in place, you are required to get regular gynecological exams and be declared STD-free, but that’s about it. And even that is unusual. It seems to be the case mainly in Holland, where, as we now know, the liberal laws legalizing prostitution have come into question by local authorities seeing a surge in organized crime. If the current anti-trafficking laws are a joke to the mafia networks supplying girls to work in the “windows” (and they are), what must health regulations be? And how many euros a month does it cost to get fake HIV status certification for all the girls in one’s stable? If johns insist, as they so often do in Germany, upon “AO” sex — “alles ohne”, meaning “everything without [condoms]“, then how long can any girl in the trade reasonably expect to pass her HIV tests and obtain a clean bill of health? After all, being prostituted alone does not magically transmit the virus; it has to come from someone else. And that “someone else” is usually the buyer. (Or, if the prostitute is also an addict, from sharing needles with someone who is infected, as many street junkies do. And, in fact, a lot of prostitutes are junkies themselves; it’s one of their key coping strategies, as drug use facilitates mental dissociation.)

So much for certification. Now what about professional training?

Well, there’s where we start getting into some seriously murky territory. And that’s precisely the bailiwick of the trauma therapists mentioned in the EMMA article I linked and translated above. All of them have found that the only real prerequisite to working in the sex trade is previous experience, usually in childhood, of severe malign neglect and/or sexual abuse. And dire poverty in one’s immediate present. That’s it! Well, that, plus a round of rape if the girl is not already broken down enough to take whatever abuse is dished out to her. Gang rape is the only “professional training” that practitioners of the “oldest profession” receive in the trafficking networks. It takes, at most, just a couple of intensely traumatic days. There are no professional colleges, no formal training programs, no exams, no boards to certify that one is proficient in “sex work”.

Does that sound like a profession to you? For that matter, does it sound like the training you’d get for any other job? After all, the “oldest profession” is supposed to be a “job like any other”…

Even the most menial joe jobs out there entail longer training periods than that of a trafficked prostitute. At a fast-food joint, on average, it’s two weeks. And the training is far more humane. If scrubbing toilets by hand were paid at the same rates as prostitution, those in prostitution would jump at the chance to become toilet-scrubbers. At least a toilet won’t grab you by the neck and rape you, sodomize you, try to kill you, or just beat the shit out of you. A toilet won’t demand that you play the all-obliging “girlfriend” or fake an orgasm in order to satisfy it. And you don’t have to dissociate mentally in order to face the next toilet, either. You don’t need crack, meth or heroin to numb you in anticipation of yet another damn toilet.

I’m not surprised that there is so little pride in being of the “oldest profession”, outside of the usual highly vocal designated spokespersons for the “sex workers’ unions” (i.e., the pimp lobby) who still insist on pushing the “Happy Hooker” fairytale as somehow representative of the trade as a whole. Just as I’m not surprised that nine out of ten people in prostitution — predominantly women and girls, cisgendered or trans — have expressed the wish to get out again, as soon as they can. Who would not want to get out of a “profession” where one’s “job” entails so much dissociation, often through drugs, in order to escape the reality that one is being repeatedly sexually abused? And where the PTSD rates are comparable to those of women who have been raped in a war zone like Bosnia?

In fact, a lot of the rape victims of the Bosnian genocide were forced into prostitution. The only real difference between a “rape camp” and a brothel was that in the latter, money was changing hands. And, most shamefully, a large part of the “clientele” were the same UN troops charged with peacekeeping in the region. That just laid insult on top of injury for the Bosnian women and girls. Because if you couldn’t trust a UN peacekeeper to keep you safe from your tormentors — and indeed, if the peacekeepers were complicit in the abuses, as they were later shown to be, in Bosnia and Kosovo — whom could you trust at all?

The trauma therapists of Germany have worked with two groups of traumatized women: survivors of war rape in the Balkans, and survivors of prostitution at home. They have seen similar patterns at work in the lives of both. They can no longer dissociate from the disturbing reality that sexual abuse is not just an ugly episode from these women’s pasts, it is also an ongoing fact of their present. Flashbacks can strike at the most unexpected moments, leaving the victim incapacitated and vulnerable to even more abuse than she has already endured. They require drugs, often hard and dangerous street drugs, to numb out and dissociate again. The cycle becomes more vicious with every turn. And when all the coping strategies evolved during one’s time in the “life” stop working, that’s when they land in the psychiatric clinic, if they are lucky, to unpack it all for someone who will listen, care, and not judge them moralistically for what they have done in order to survive.

And when someone whose job it is to listen and care nonjudgmentally comes out in favor of abolition, you can be sure that this person’s conclusion is the product of long reflection upon what they have seen in their own profession. One can’t call them “repressed Victorian moralists”, as these therapists are the beneficiaries — and in some cases, pioneers — of the most modern psychotherapeutic and psychosexual training in the world. These are no buttoned-up church ladies and ignorant backwoods preachers of abstinence and procreation-only; these are urbane specialists with the highest educations, and the best training, that the highly reputable German university medical system has to offer. If they speak out against prostitution, and do so precisely on the basis of what they have learned from those in the thick of it — you can take their word to the bank. They have made the scientific case against a “profession” that has no real scientific basis whatsoever.

Now, I wonder if the politicians are also listening — caringly, and without judgment, as the therapists have learned to do.

Compare and Contrast: Hollywood vs. India

budget-compared.jpg

This achievement is even more impressive when you consider what was entailed in the Indian Mars mission:

“We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and human imagination,” declared India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who watched from the space agency’s nerve center in Bangalore. “We have accurately navigated our spacecraft through a route known to a very few.”

The staff at the Indian Space Research Organization erupted into applause and cheers after learning that the Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, reached the planet’s orbit and made history.

Before Wednesday, only the United States, Europe and the Soviets have successfully sent spacecraft to Mars.

“The odds were stacked against us,” Modi said. “Of the 51 missions attempted so far, a mere 21 had succeeded. But we have prevailed.”

The CNN article goes on to make the same observation as the graphic above: that it cost more money to make a fictional movie about space exploration than it did for India to make it all the way to the Red Planet. Which begs the question: What do Indians know that the US does not? I suspect the answer is probably that they don’t out-contract to overpriced idiots as much, if at all. And that many centuries’ experience in doing much with little has stood them in excellent stead.

Why isn’t legalized prostitution safer?

worst-john-ever.jpg

Ah yes. Pity the poor john who got the short end of that stick, eh? He came hoping to pay for the illusion that she was really into the “mutual pleasure” of his escapist fantasies, only to be left cockadroop by the hard realities of her life (complete with “biker boyfriend”!) Instead of “an hour or two” of (poorly) paid schtupping, he left frustrated, and she came away empty-handed. I guess it could have gone a lot worse, though. She could have been raped and/or killed, as well as robbed of whatever paltry few bucks she happened to have lying around. She is at the mercy of guys like him and the “biker boyfriend” — who, for all we know, could have been her pimp. Which is why I don’t feel so bad for this particular entitled — oh sorry, “hard-working” — specimen of manhood. Nor do I feel inclined to praise him for being “merciful” and just walking out without paying. He could have done to her what johns have done to prostitutes since time immemorial. And he could have gotten away with it, too.

And if anyone thinks that legalization of the “oldest profession” (oldest crappy joe job, more like it) would have made a positive difference to that poor woman, maybe you should read all about what’s happened in Germany since exactly that:

Again and again, defenders of legalized prostitution assert that prostitution serves a kind of “channeling” function for society; that all the presumably uncontrollable urges of men can be acted out there, and so women can be protected from rape. Aside from the fact that this attitude makes men into urge-driven idiots who, due to the gladly-invented concept of “blocked urges” then go on to commit crimes — who wants to live with such men, really? — this argument also most profoundly robs prostitutes themselves of dignity, making them into “dumpsters” for that which men cannot act out at home because, we all know, that in the eyes of prostitution-defenders, all wives are per se prudish and frigid and thus drive their husbands into the arms of prostitution. But how do prostitutes defend themselves from this “acting out” by men, which has always come with a potential threat of force? The sex-worker lobby claims that it’s part of the professionalism of prostitutes to recognize dangerous johns and prevent them from doing violence. Should this fail, the prostitute has acted unprofessionally — the man, with all his “blocked urges”, naturally is not at fault.

Since 1988, there have been 51 murders and attempted murders of prostitutes. These are only the incidents that abolitionists have so far been able to research. The list is by no means complete and will be expanded in future. In 1988, a dermatologist from Frankfurt committed one murder and three attempted murders on prostitutes. He was sentenced. In 1993, 16-year-old Mandy of Hamburg was brutally murdered; her killer was only arrested years later. The papers wrote of a “Murder in the Milieu” instead of the murder of a minor. In 1999, 20-year-old Sandy of Chemnitz was brutally mistreated and killed over debts. The list goes on and on, and shows that no type of prostitution is safe, whether on the street, or in a “lovemobile”, or in rental housing, or a bordello. Absolute protection from violent johns cannot exist.

The Wiki “Sex Industry Kills” has collected all known instances of murders, attempted murders, and crimes against prostitutes. It is a gallery of horrors. Murder and rape are among the “occupational hazards” of prostitution.

Prostitution is legal in Germany since 2002. Again and again it gets argued that only legalized prostitution makes it safer for those who practice it. We can see that the number of violent acts against prostitutes has actually increased — which is no wonder, because the number of prostituted persons has also increased. Woman as merchandise — since 2002, she is available everywhere, visible everywhere. Whoever ascribes “blocked urges” to men, must also now acknowledge that they can’t resist this “offer”, and also use force. The cynicism of the “blocked urges” and “channeling” arguments is profoundly inhumane — and also stems from the 19th century. It has nothing to do with “freedom” and “self-determination”; it turns prostitutes into a usable vessel, and men into idiots. The latest attempted murder, of a prostitute in Köln, was just a few weeks ago.

Since the fall of last year, as well, those who fight against prostitution are being blamed for violence against prostitutes — because they point out the risks of prostitution, some people get “ideas”, according to one forum. Again, here there is no responsibility for the doers of the deed; instead, it’s everyone else’s fault. It is in the interests of all those who defend prostitution to make johns out to be friendly customers. The reality shows that many of them are potential violent offenders.

How closely violence and prostitution are intertwined, we can see in reports on crimes against prostitutes. Media reports on the matter teach fear. The Stuttgarter Merkur newspaper wrote, of the murder of 31-year-old Alina Gruso, in 2009: “The motive is completely unknown. Could there be a relationship problem behind it? Because the murder doesn’t follow the usual way prostitutes become victims: No fight about unsatisfactory sexual services, nor over the payment. Even robbery is ruled out. And Alina had no enemies. What then could have driven the killer?” So robbery-murder is a commonly accepted form of violence against prostitutes, as well as rape, which many don’t even regard as a crime.

Countless other crimes took place in the same time frame against prostitutes throughout Germany. Rapes, arson, armed robberies. These crimes didn’t even merit a mention of the victims’ names in the media, for the most part. It’s just “a prostitute”, whereas the entire focus is on the offender. These are almost exclusively johns. Their motive is not just sexual violence, but also extortion and robbery. In January of 2008, three men attacked a woman in Wiesbaden, raped her, robbed her and threatened to come back again. When the woman, who worked in a rented flat, went to police, she was criticized by her colleagues; she had made “too big a deal out of it”. For these men, women who work as prostitutes are just objects that they can mistreat and rob as they please, even up to sadistic torture. In Fürth, a man subjected a prostitute to electric shocks, beat her with cables, stabbed her and eventually cut off one of her finger joints. The man managed to escape unnoticed, but was apprehended shortly thereafter, because there was a security camera in the bordello. In 2010, a john in Mainz-Marienborn raped a prostitute four times and recorded it on video — he wanted to film a successful home porno, and for that he needed “real panic” in the eyes of his victim.

Johns always get violent towards women because they aren’t happy with the “service” they get for their money. One unbelievable case is that of a 51-year-old Stuttgarter, who held a prostitute prisoner in his home and abused her because he was not satisfied with her service. He ordered his mother to call the police because he felt he was in the right. In 2012, a paramedic, a family man, raped a prostitute for hours until she lost consciousness, and threatened her with “real problems” if she went to police.

Even those who defend prostitution know how dangerous it is. Their “safety tips” speak volumes about what prostitution means for those who practice it:

– Women shouldn’t wear long earrings, because they could get ripped out. Also no scarves or necklaces, because these could get used to strangle them.

– No tight skirts or dresses, so they can run away more easily.

– They should carry whistles to call for help.

– Keep defensive weapons close at hand.

– There are also concrete tips: If a woman is being held by the back of the neck, she should kick him in the balls rather than try to pry his hands off.

These and other tips can be found here.

Prostitution kills, that much is clear. The above violent incidents are not “coincidences” or “exceptions”, they are the consequences of a kind of thinking and acting that turns women into merchandise that can be bought and used. Prostitution dehumanizes, and dehumanization is the first step to gruesomeness and violence. Men who attack prostitutes see themselves as customers who have a “right” to this stranger’s body and power over it, and in the event of an emergency, they can use force. A prostitute is a preferred victim for all those who want to grab a couple of euros — because who believes a prostitute? And to square the deal for the offenders, they rape the woman too — taking “for free” what would otherwise cost. Others use prostitutes for their perverse little games, duplicating the oh-so-beloved violent pornos with “real panic in the eyes”, or sadistically abuse them.

Prostitution doesn’t channel any drives, it doesn’t protect anyone from rape. It kills and opens opportunities for offenders to take out their perversions, their misogyny and their violent fantasies where they have the least to fear. Further legalization of prostitution would only lead to women and their lacking “professionalization strategies” being made even more responsible for any violence against them. Because if prostitution is to be a “job like any other”, then the dangers can’t be acknowledged. And above all, the focus cannot be turned on the johns, who must continue to be legal clients and not potential lawbreakers. Prostitution without violence doesn’t exist. Without the degradation of women into objects, sex-buying isn’t possible. This degradation contains dehumanization, and leads to violence, whether out of greed or “blocked urges”, in just one small step. The answer is to ban sex-buying. The day before yesterday, preferably.

Translation mine. Linkage as in original

So you can see that legalization hasn’t made prostitution safer in Germany. Prostitutes are still being attacked, robbed, raped and killed there. If anything, it’s become more common, because the number of prostitutes has shot up so dramatically since legalization.

And crimes against them have been given a gloss of bizarre legitimacy. The murder of a 16-year-old can be written off as a “murder in the milieu” because she was a prostitute; the fact that she was also a minor gets conveniently swept under the rug. If she were NOT prostituted, the story would have been reported so differently; the killer would have been made out to be a heinous, pederastic pervert who must be caught soon, before he does it again. But since she was turning tricks, who the hell cares that he’s a menace to public safety? Even if she WAS under-age, she was still one of Those Women. Nobody gives an under-age prostitute the consideration that would otherwise apply to girls of her tender years. Being prostituted is considered as conferring “agency”, and hence maturity. And if you don’t exercise your “agency” properly, you end up in a world of hurt. Or dead. And the killer might not ever be caught, because you were only a prostitute. Too bad for you!

But hey, that’s the way the “free market” of sex capitalism works, right? Personal Responsibility with a vengeance. Demand drives the market, not supply. Which is why all this “sex-positive” talk of “agency” just makes me laugh sardonically. In case you haven’t twigged to this yet, it’s obvious that prostitution has nothing to do with female sexuality at all. It’s not about what SHE wants, it’s all about what HE wants. If demand drives the market, then those who exercise demand exert control. And since supply doesn’t drive it, those who provide sex don’t actually control the terms of the transaction. No matter how hard the privileged few who run the “sex worker” lobby try to make out that they do. The old adage of paying the piper and calling the tune holds truest of all in prostitution. And if the “tune” isn’t sweet enough, then…well…

See, this is why I can’t buy into the libertarian-capitalist exception that so many of my peers here on the left seem all too happy to expound. It boggles my mind that anyone could be a socialist (and/or anarchist) and not see the contradiction here. How can you be in favor of workers seizing the means of production when you also think it should be perfectly legal for a man to buy a woman and get her to do “sex work” for whatever price he deems fitting — oh sorry, “whatever the market will bear”? How can you be all “no lords, no gods, no masters” on the one hand, and perfectly okay with a man lording it over a woman in such a crassly capitalistic way on the other? How can one talk of breaking the grip of the “Invisible Hand” while turning a blind eye to the death-grip it exerts on the necks of women? Does one need to identify as female in order to see this contradiction clearly?

And conversely: Does one need a penis in order to think there is no contradiction here? Boner, Boner, über alles?

Yeah, I guess that must be it. My ladybits and ladybrain are getting in the way of the complex slew of rationalizations needed to arrive at such preposterous conclusions. Again. Why else would I insist on taking my anarcho-socialism to its logical ends even in the murky area marked S-E-X? Since I don’t have the kind of little head that drains blood (and thinking capacity) away from the big one so efficiently, I just can’t wrap my big head around the way a guy’s little one just seems to take the whole thing over and turn him from a rational, intelligent human being into a sex-crazed rabid baboon.

Antifeminists constantly accuse radical women like me of “misandry”. And yet they fail to see that when they posit men as being led by their dicks, they’re committing a much more real and profound form of man-hating than anything, actual or imagined, that they could ever accuse us feminists of.

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I prefer to think of men as coming, like women, from Earth. None of that “Venus and Mars” shit for me. And I prefer to credit them with rationality and intelligence, like us, instead of just a crazy chemical stew of ill-defined and dangerous “urges”.

Above all, I insist that we be allowed to approach sex on an equal footing. Turning it into a pay-for-play transaction destroys the equilibrium, to say nothing of female desire. Money not only can’t buy love, it can’t even buy a half-hearted ladyboner.

But then again, who needs ladyboners when you’re only paying to get your own rocks off? And if you get off on the inequality of it all, why shouldn’t you be allowed to pay for it? After all, inequality is only to be expected when one sex/class is naturally superior, and the other naturally inferior. So goes the sex-capitalist line of reasoning.

And if that line of reasoning seems a bit too crass for you, hey, there’s always prude-shaming. It’s the go-to strategy of the modern “leftist” man who wants to have his capitalism and eat it, too. Or the “empowered” woman who hasn’t fully digested the concept of self-determination. Yeah sure, go ahead and call me “Victorian” because I take an abolitionist stance. Bluster your big head off about my so-called 19th-century morality if it makes you feel better. But here’s the kicker: If you believe that buying sex is the answer to rape and female poverty both, you’re the real Victorian. Because back in the 19th century, there was another mindset that ran parallel to that of enforced prudery for wives and virgins; namely, that of the Necessity of Prostitution. To keep the wives and virgins “safe” and “virtuous”, natch. How else were men supposed to “channel” all those “dangerous urges”? By taking them out on a certain class of women made conveniently available for the purpose.

And that class of women was denigrated and degraded not only in terms of the social discourse of the day, but in the eyes of their own clientele. They were thus easy targets for all kinds of male violence. Remember Jack the Ripper? His killing spree began and ended right at the zenith of Victorian England. During the height of a time of extreme prudery, in other words. And his victims were all street prostitutes from the down-at-heel London district of Whitechapel. “Jack”, whoever he was, was the quintessential Victorian man. He saw prostitutes as a class that was conveniently available for him to use…and abuse. Even to the death. He was smug in his taunting of the authorities, daring him to try to catch him. He was never brought to trial, at least not as the Ripper. For all anybody knew, he remained at large. And no doubt there was a certain smugness in the way the yellow press of the day reported on that, too: with overt sensationalism on the one hand, and a tacit “thank God it’s only them and not nice ladies” on the other. True, prostitution wasn’t legal…but it wasn’t abolished, either. The laws and mores of the day saw fit to ghettoize and exploit it instead of eradicating it. How do we know? Because they only criminalized the women, and not the men who bought, sold and used them. Remember, demand drives the market…and the Victorian authorities weren’t interested in dealing with the demand side. They often WERE the demand side. Why would they act against their own interests? That would have been not just taking prudery too far, but also doing capitalism wrong.

Early anarchists and socialists both opposed prostitution, recognizing it as part and parcel of the hypocrisy of the Victorian-capitalist bourgeois mindset, and their reasoning was not prudish. Read Emma Goldman if you don’t believe me. Or Alexandra Kollontai. And if you don’t have time for that, just remember: It’s not the sex that makes prostitution dirty. It’s the CAPITALISM, stupid!

Prostituted women in Germany are no longer criminalized, as they were in the “good old days” of Kaiser Wilhelm. But are they empowered? No! They still can’t count on the police to protect them. Because the johns have always been legal and legitimate, even when prostitution was not. The legal status of the women may have changed (ever so slightly!), but for the johns it’s the same as it ever was. Those guys could always “discreetly” take out their unsavory “urges” on a certain class of women. The fact that the women are now “legal” doesn’t change a thing, except to make sex capitalism more readily profitable for those running the show. Capitalism wins out over feminism. If the police are not allowed to bust bordello owners and shut the business down, they are also not allowed to arrest johns who don’t play by the official rules…at least not so long as those men are still on the premises. Because when a bordello charges a cheap flat rate for “unlimited sex”, why would they want the cops in there, banging down the doors? That’s bad for business. Makes it look like a House of Ill Repute, nicht wahr? And worse, it scares the johns into realizing that maybe “unlimited sex” has its limits, after all. What a boner-wilter!

Laws are inherently limiting, and that’s just what the sex-capitalists who run the prostitution and human-trafficking networks don’t want. Why else would they throw so much money behind their extensive lobbying efforts to remove all legal limits from prostitution in Germany — including the perfectly reasonable compromises like minimum ages, the right of police to inspect brothels, etc.?

They’re certainly not doing it to protect the women, or else we’d have seen not a single one murdered since prostitution was legalized there in 2002.

Cops Behaving Badly: Back to School Bathroom Bomb Scare Edition

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The front page of an official Texas website promoting abstinence. Think it will work?

Ugh, Texas…what the fuck is wrong with you? Whatever it is, even your police are suffering from it now:

Parents in Texas are upset after police reportedly “swarmed” a Texas high school because a girl may have had a miscarriage in one of the bathrooms.

KDFW reported that a school custodian notified the principal at Woodrow Wilson High School after finding a “possible fetus” in one of the bathroom stalls on Friday.

The principal contacted police, who “swarmed” the school, according to KTVT.

They even sent a helicopter to buzz the skies overhead. Yup, miscarrying in the school washroom is now being treated exactly like a full-fledged terrorist attack. One would think it was a bomb, not blood, in the toilets.

And oh yeah: How about a little religious slut-shaming with that, too?

Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Unit detectives were investigating to find out who may have abandoned the fetus. The person involved was being considered a “suspect.”

“We’re reviewing video, talking to the teachers, trying to determine if anybody has any knowledge of any student that may have had something going on in their life, and pray,” Dallas Police Major John Lawton said.

Yeah, that’s right…instead of trying to find the girl and make sure she’s all right, they’re just gonna pray. Pray for that young heathen jezebel who just couldn’t wait until she was married before getting knocked up. She’s being treated as a “suspect”, rather than a girl who may be in need of medical attention.

And the local religious slut-shaming brigade also just HAD to chime in…

Alan Elliott of Baby Moses Dallas explained to KDFW that the mother could have avoided any criminal charges if she had taken advantage of Baby Moses laws by carrying the child to term, and then dropping it off at a safe baby site like a fire station.

“And that’s a happy ending when that happens, because the baby is safe, the mother is protected from any sort of prosecution, so it’s a win-win for both of them,” Elliot noted.

However, it was not immediately clear how far along the pregnancy was, and the cause of the possible miscarriage was not known.

…even though it’s not clear that it was a deliberate abortion. What if it turns out to be an accident?

And why all this horrible talk of prosecuting what must, by now, be one terribly frightened girl?

Well, maybe because Texas is an abstinence-only state. And that’s not going so well for them:

Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Although the teen birth rate has been declining over the past decade, the Lone Star State still has the highest rate of repeat teen births, as an estimated 22 percent of teens who give birth have already had at least one child.

In light of those statistics, how is Texas’ Department of Health hoping to help prevent future unintended pregnancies among young women? By spending $1.2 million to build an abstinence-only website that doesn’t include any mention of contraception.

Yes, I’m sure that will help a lot. In fact, I bet the girl in question was already a beneficiary of just such a paucity of information. Not to mention deathly afraid of seeking birth control, because if anyone found out, the slut-shame brigade would turn out in force and swarm her, just like those stupid cops and their helicopter. Girls who conceal pregnancies tend to be afraid of things like that. Even just telling their own mothers could be the hardest thing in the world to do — especially if Mom is another of those religious freaks who would rather pray for her daughter’s soul than take her to the doctor and make sure her body is all right.

And really — since when is it the police’s duty to play Morally Judgmental Parent?

With a “win-win” framework like that in place, more bathroom miscarriages are all but inevitable.