Montréal Massacre: The truth that no one wants to know

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“Je lutte contre les féministes!”

So said Marc Lépine, Gamil Rodrigue Gharbi, expressly declaring war on feminists before he opened fire. These words have often been misquoted or mistranslated as “You’re all a bunch of feminists”, “I hate feminists”. In fact, they mean “I am fighting against feminists”. This is just one of many truths that have been distorted, ignored or outright whitewashed in our memories of that horrible day.

25 years ago today. A full quarter-century. Has it really been that long? For me, the crime of the Canadian century happened only yesterday. No matter where I am, no matter what day it is, what time of year, for me it will always be December at Queen’s University, whenever I think of those names, that night. I will always feel the cold and damp of the ever-present Kingston slush leaking into my boots, will always smell the snow in the air, will always feel the strangled need to cry as I head to the vigil, to class, to my volunteer work at the Queen’s Women’s Centre. I, who can’t forget, wonder how anyone else could fail to remember.

And yet, fail they do. They fail all the time. Our politicians, our media, they fail us, the women of Canada.

A few days ago, Peter MacKay, our so-called justice minister, stuck his foot in it big-time when he said that “we may never understand” why Marc Lépine did it. In actual fact, only he himself may never know that. He, and maybe the rest of the willfully ignorant, predominantly male morons who comprise the conservative government and its voting bloc. And they may never know it because they just don’t want to know it. They are idiots, they don’t belong in power, and they must not presume to speak for the rest of us.

All other Canadians know the truth all too well. Days after it happened, letters were already pouring in to media outlets all over Canada, and especially Québec, decrying the massacre for what it was: not the random act of a lone madman, but a specifically political act of terrorism. Protests and vigils were organized on university campuses across the land. Feminist women, and a few perceptive, allied men, could already see the truth, and they weren’t having any of the media’s carefully organized, cleverly worded whitewash. None of them were fooled by the conventional “wisdom” that Canadian women had already achieved all that they wanted, that life was fine and fair now, and that feminists should just pack it all in and go home to their kitchens…so to speak.

The women on Lépine’s hit list — oh yes, he had one — know it all too well, too. They were his actual, intended targets. They were meant to become examples of “what happens to feminists when they go too far”. The fact that they did not may be due only to Lépine’s instability and ineptitude; he was apparently almost as poor a terrorist as he was a student. Instead, it was a completely unrelated group who paid the price: the women who were admitted as engineering students to the Polytechnique, taking what Lépine fancied was his rightful place in a profession which is still, to this day, heavily dominated by men.

Did any of them call themselves feminists at the time? I can’t speak for the dead, but I do know that at least some of the survivors said that no, at the time, they were not, although they believed in equality of the sexes, and believed that feminism’s work was done. They were examples of how feminism had succeeded, because they were beneficiaries of female progress and believers in equal opportunity. And yet, also, they were victims — unwitting exemplars of how much of our society’s complacency works against that same progress. They just wanted to fit in, to be accepted; they conceded to the patriarchy without realizing how at the time, or how much. They were not then feminists. But they are now, because now they see the need. Far from sending them to sleep, the shooting was a wake-up call for them. The Massacre drove home to them that there was and is a need for feminism, because women are not free yet, and neither are they treated as men’s equals.

Worse, we are losing ground; the long-gun registry was scrapped, and human-rights protections that women have fought for over decades are being eroded away by creeping conservatism, neo-traditionalism, and ultra-capitalist economics that push the underclass ever further down. If feminism has accomplished all its goals, as is so often insisted by media and “men’s rights” groups, why is there still so much misogyny — enough to kill, not only in spectacular mass form, but on a small, steady, day-to-day basis?

Maybe it’s because our supposedly liberal, enlightened society is still largely an Old Boys’ Club. And maybe because that club is jealous of its power and control, and will do all it can to preserve it; just look at how long the struggle for pay equity has been going on. Maybe because women getting legal personhood, abortion rights, the Pill, the vote, an education, and some limited right to pursue a career, isn’t enough to combat it. Maybe because the scant handful basic, partial concessions of rights we have been able to get have actually served, in the minds of sexist men, as provocations, as proof that we’ve “gone too far”, as “danger signs” that a matriarchy is about to replace the existing “benevolent” patriarchy, and as “evidence” of a “need” to put women back in “their place”. (Note all the quotes; they’re there for a reason.)

And yes, the Montréal Massacre was aimed at doing exactly that.

I know all this because I have a little purple book in front of me on my desk right now. It’s called, simply, The Montréal Massacre. It was compiled by Louise Malette and Marie Chalouh, and translated by Marlene Wildeman for Gynergy Books. I bought it in the early 1990s, and I have yet to finish reading it, because its intensity keeps knocking the wind out of me. It is a collection of letters, essays, newspaper articles and poems, written in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, and it puts the lie to all the conventional narratives. Some of the writers are well-known Québec feminists, others ordinary people who were moved to write letters to the editor because they could not stomach all the bullshit and the lies. All are deeply, darkly critical of the mainstream narrative, of the silence it enforces.

Some note how the francophone media’s language around the victims was absurdly masculinized; the murder victims were not, as the media put it, étudiants, masculine/generic, but étudiantes, female students. Not all were engineering students; Barbara Klucznik was a nursing student. And not all of them were students, either; Maryse Laganière was an employee of the Polytechnique’s budget department. So the “student” appellation was not entirely accurate. The one and only thing the dead all had in common was that they were female. By erasing the gender of the dead, the media whitewashed the fact that the massacre was a gender-specific act of terrorism. (Even in the English-speaking media, where gender-specific noun endings are largely passé, a subtler form of erasure was the order of the day. And at least one journalist now feels guilty about her own unintentional part in the whitewash. It as, after all, quite the Old Boys’ Club in there. And, like the Massacre victims, she just wanted to fit in.)

Several of the writers also note that the media expressed curious sympathy for the killer while ignoring his blatant motives, preferring to portray him as mentally ill, an abused child of a wildly unstable father, and pitiable, rather than as a conscious political actor. Why can’t he be all of those things? they ask. For he WAS all of those things. Being mentally ill, abused and pitiful does not render a person apolitical, nor should it obscure that person’s political motives. Being political does not make one cold, mechanical, divorced from one’s own abused and abusive past, either. Such oversimplification serves the public interest poorly; feminists know that all too well. They’ve had to battle similar erroneous perceptions from the get-go.

Above all, the writers of that little book decry how quick the patriarchy was to fling its mantle over everything, to declare it “incomprehensible” and deem all protest “inappropriate”, “disrespectful”, etc. All FEMINIST protest, that is. If a man spouted blatant sexism to “protest” all the “rampant feminism” that supposedly provoked the killer, why, that was quite all right. The voices of the privileged class were welcome to have their say, over and over and over, ad nauseam. The underclass? Shut up, you bitches, the men are talking. Go home. Make sandwiches. Be thankful that we let a few of you in as tokens, and be quiet. Don’t demand more.

Even today, we’re still fighting the carefully orchestrated ignorance that fell like a shroud over that late afternoon. And it’s like trying to swim through an ever-spinning turbine to get at the truth, to be able to tell it and not be silenced.

I can still remember watching the mass funeral on TV, seeing the Catholic priests swinging their incense-burners over the caskets as they were paraded by. It was a literal smokescreen being cast before our very eyes, a metaphor made real. And oh, how nauseated I was by it all. I can remember thinking, quite clearly, how ironic and horrific and yet strangely appropriate this was; patriarchy had killed those women, and now it was burying them, too. And of course, it decreed forgetfulness, mealy mouths, empty words, lip service in lieu of honesty and action, much smoke but no fire. The victims were “innocent”, and much was made of that innocence and guiltlessness. They did not deserve to die — everyone agreed on that — but they were also not allowed to be women. They were not allowed to be acknowledged as victims of sexism, of patriarchy, of gendercide.

People still don’t want to know why those 14 women were really killed. They’re very curious to know who they were, but not so curious as to why they had to perish. They think that it’s enough to put faces and life stories to the names, and not inquire any further into the killer’s motive for destroying them. Worse, in their efforts to “put the tragedy behind us”, they’ve buried Marc Lépine’s suicide-note-cum-manifesto and hit list, so that it can’t be analyzed and criticized, and so that its contents cannot be properly understood. Who benefits from that? The Menz Rightzers. The MRAs. The “manosphere”. The patriarchy. They’ve already claimed him as their hero-martyr-saint. They have websites set up as shrines to him, and have cultivated them for years. They consider his words to be a kind of holy writ, a truth bomb in the war against feminism. They preserve his ramblings while the rest of us are unable to find the full text of those words on any site that isn’t unsavory, that isn’t dedicated to hating women and calling for their wholesale enslavement and destruction, that doesn’t repulse us and send us fleeing for our sanity’s sake.

Think we don’t need feminism anymore? Think again. This is why we need it, people:

25 years have gone by, and in those 25 years, the message to be silent, to bury the dead women “respectfully” by forgetting the meaning of their deaths, has only grown louder. But if we want to actually make progress, we have to talk about them, analyze, criticize, tear open the hypocritical crypt, and blow away the ashes, dust and smoke that surround it. We have to scrub away the whitewash from the sepulchre, and acknowledge what’s really inside. Otherwise, we’re only doing the terrorist’s work for him, and erasing women from the picture. Not only from the past, but our present and future, too.

Dear Emma Teitel and Maclean’s: Don’t tell me how to feminist, and I won’t tell you how to journalist.

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You tell ‘em, kitty.

Every so often, I get to wondering why I haven’t picked up a copy of Maclean’s in years. And then I do, and I’m instantly, disgustingly reminded: Oh yeah, Barbara Amiel is still writing for them. Booooooring. And so are her little clones. Like, for instance, one Emma Teitel, who thinks it’s time we big bad meanie feminists stopped picking on pickup artists, just because she felt sorry for some poor little pizza-faced kid who once accosted her at the Eaton Centre:

About a year ago I was walking through the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto when a teenage boy approached me and asked me very meekly if he could have a few minutes of my time. I said sure, assuming that he was working for a charity and hadn’t had much luck attracting donors during rush hour in the dead of winter. (I did a similar, soul-crushing job in college.) I waited for his pitch about poverty, child soldiers or land mines, but it never came. Instead, he told me how “cool” my glasses were and asked me if I had a boyfriend. It became instantly clear that he didn’t want a donation; he wanted a date. I told him I was a lesbian in a hurry (my go-to exit strategy with street preachers) and I was soon on my way—confused about why a teenage boy would so boldly pursue a four-eyed woman in a ski jacket 10 years his senior, but flattered nonetheless.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized my age and attire were irrelevant to the equation, because my adolescent suitor didn’t have eyes for me; he had eyes for literally any woman with a pulse. According to multiple news outlets, Toronto’s biggest downtown shopping mall had recently become ground zero for so-called pickup artists (PUAs as they are known online), a loosely connected international community of guys who share seduction tips with each other on the Internet and take to the streets to “woo” as many unsuspecting women as humanly possible. Their techniques range from corny (showering women with compliments) to cruel: “Negging,” a PUA technique popularized by American pickup artist and journalist Neil Strauss in his 2005 book, The Game, consists of showering women with low-grade insults. According to Urban Dictionary, “negs” are “meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” (An example, used frequently by my own grandmother: “Wow, you have beautiful eyes. It’s a shame I can barely see them behind your bangs.”)

The Eaton Centre, obviously displeased with the fact that some of its female shoppers were being subjected to this bizarre breed of socially awkward male interference, issued a statement on Twitter alerting customers about the PUA presence on its premises. “Rest assured security is briefed and your health and safety are our top priority,” mall staff tweeted before Christmas last year.

The pickup artist who tried and failed to woo me on account of my cool glasses was, as far as I could tell, a threat to nobody’s health and safety. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the guy. Spending one’s free time trying to engage strangers romantically in a shopping mall doesn’t merely reveal an absence of social grace, but quite possibly, an absence of friends.

Gawd, it sure is windy out there in beautiful downtown Toronto today, eh? But wait, here comes something that looks like a nut graf…finally:

But it is no longer socially acceptable to pity the PUAs, because they are apparently—in these socially divisive, Ghomeshi-saturated times—a viable threat to the feminist cause. That cause has been active against the PUA culture, and has borne fruit. For example, Julien Blanc, the 25-year-old pickup artist of the PUA organization Real Social Dynamics—and author of such promotional gems as: “Develop panty-dropping masculinity with this rock-solid structure to self-generate the powerful emotions girls crave”—was banned from Australia this month on the grounds that his dating seminars (for which he charges more than $1,000) incite violence against women. Several petitions asking the Canadian government to bar Blanc from entering Canada are in the works here too; the outcry against him has been so strong on Twitter that Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander issued a statement on the social media platform last week condemning the pickup artist’s teachings, and ensuring the public that his office is “looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”

Er. What’s with the “apparently” there, Emma? And what’s with all the sneery commentaries on “these times”? This isn’t some new thing. This is the same old shit that has always been with us. Why are you undermining efforts to stop it?

If a guy walks down the street randomly grabbing women by the throat and shoving their faces into his smelly crotch, do you not see that he’s committing blatant, overt violence against women? Because that is what we feminists oppose, among other manifestations of sexism and the patriarchy.

And if a guy makes it his mission to preach this same violence like it’s some kind of gospel, and make big money at it like Jimmy Fucking Swaggart, do you not see a problem there, one worthy of feminist efforts to expose and eradicate?

Nope, apparently she doesn’t:

Blanc, by comparison, is a sophomoric ass so blatantly trolling the feminist community with idiotic rape jokes and a following that is insignificant in comparison to the number of people speaking out against him. He has 8,200 Twitter followers; the petition to have him barred from entering the U.K. just reached 150,000. In other words, he isn’t Hitler. He’s Stifler. Which makes the current media blitz he’s enjoying all the more annoying. The most ironic thing about Blanc’s notorious hashtag is that the vast majority of people who appear to be using it are feminists. (I searched the hashtag and scrolled down the results for roughly 25 minutes trying to find one tweet that championed the sentiment rather than derided it. I failed.) Were it not for the scores of women using it in their posts to denounce Blanc, it would likely cease to exist.

Huh. I see she bought his “only joking” defence. Poor dear, she doesn’t realize it, but she’s the one being trolled.

Emma, I’m with your grandma. You really do need to pin back your bangs. An unobstructed view of reality is so much better than looking cute but being unable to see past your own cutesiness. When even the stuffy old Torygraph says nobody’s buying that “apology”, doesn’t that tell you anything? Here, let me brush that wool out of your eyes:

Before he locked down his Twitter account (probably because he realized, belatedly, that no one was actually finding his rape “jokes” funny), Julien Blanc was promoting the Duluth Power and Control Wheel as a “checklist” on how to “Make Her Stay With You”.

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Does this sound “funny” to you, Emma? Because it’s actually a teaching tool which feminists helped to develop, and which is used by counsellors of abused persons to help them recognize common strategies of control used by abusers. And there is nothing “sophomoric” about that. On the contrary, it speaks to just how controlling, abusive and downright cynical Julien Blanc really is.

But hey! Let’s throw a few bones to the feminists before we throw them to the dogs, eh Emma?

It appears that out of a laudable and deeply felt outrage at a potential injury to women, some in the feminist movement have amplified exactly the misogynistic messages they’d like to snuff out. They’ve effectively become Julien Blanc’s spokeswomen, his PR firm. Kirsty Mac, a feminist and stand-up comic whose activism was instrumental in the decision to ban Blanc from Australia, disagrees with this idea wholeheartedly. “Australia said no to violence against women and the world followed,” Mac wrote to me in an email. “Social media might very well be the beginning of the end of the misogyny in pop culture.”

Drawing attention to a problem in an effort to eradicate it is not the same thing as promoting it, Emma. And knock off that divide-and-conquer shit about “some in the feminist movement”. This is something we can all get behind, and should. As the AIDS activists used to say, Silence = Death. You might want to remember that before you start prattling about nuance.

Oops, too late. She’s prattling about nuance, now…

It is certainly the beginning of the end of nuance. Feminist causes have exploded on Twitter in the last year, from #YesAllWomen (the viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of misogynist murderer Elliot Rodger’s violent rampage in May) to #BeenRaped­NeverReported, the infinitely powerful and informative viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi in October. The social media movement against “street harassment” (a.k.a. cat calling) is just as lively. So too, whether we like or not, is the backlash against the Rosetta mission scientist Matt Taylor who wore a tasteless shirt on TV during the live broadcast of the comet landing, emblazoned with hundreds of miniature pictures of semi-nude ladies; a problematic message, many argued, in an industry that employs so few women.

These conversations are overdue. Yet the downside to their playing out on social media is the lightning speed at which online feminism has amalgamated sexist offenses of wildly varying severity—pickup artistry, cat-calling, date rape—into one melting pot of equivalency. The result is that the difference between what’s idiotic, what’s lecherous, and what’s criminal is lost.

This is the hapless kind of false equivalency that has infected so many worthy social movements and reduced their stature, with moral persuasion replaced by ideological bullying. The greatest heresy is for anyone, male or female, to suggest that there might be another side to the story—like, for instance, Brandon Thomas, an 18-year-old self-styled pickup artist who lives in Tulsa, Okla., who told me he was virtually friendless before he got involved with the PUA community two years ago. “I had no idea how awkward I was . . . Parents and friends tell you what you want to hear,” he said. “A dating coach tells you what you need to hear.” (He claims that every PUA technique he uses is imbued with respect for women.)

Not all pickup artists are equal; and very few of them are the spawn of the devil. (Most, I suspect, are merely virgins.)

Yes, Emma, and I was a virgin too, once upon a long time ago. But it never turned me into a serial harasser of strangers in shopping malls.

In fact, I was still technically one on the night this one very slick operator, who I thought was my friend, first “rescued” me from his, er, over-enthusiastic roomie, then took me out of their basement apartment, and later, after a few beers, brought me back to my place, ostensibly safe and sound. On my parents’ own living-room floor he made out with me for a couple of minutes. That was fine; he was a buff, good-looking guy, and I kind of fancied him. But then, without warning, he undid his pants, clambered up over me until he was straddling my neck, and popped his half-masted cock into my mouth.

I was so confused that I didn’t know what to do, other than docilely lie there and let him, so as not to risk offending him and maybe getting myself hurt. (Nice Girl Training, goddamn.)

Perhaps he sensed that there was something ironic and not quite kosher about what he was doing, because after a few half-hearted ins and outs, he stopped, put himself away, and zipped up. He left shortly thereafter. I locked the door behind him.

Then I silently slunk upstairs to bed, bewildered and still a little tipsy, and feeling — not violated or traumatized exactly, but still somehow betrayed. Because he had just a few hours ago saved me from getting raped, and I honestly expected him to know better than to do it himself. He could have asked, and I might have said yes.

But he didn’t. And I didn’t. He never gave me that chance.

I never reported this as a sexual assault, because what would have been the use? I can’t say I was injured, because I wasn’t. My technicalities were still intact, and he hadn’t used any overt force. (Overt is the operative word here. And maybe it’s kind of a moot question when someone’s in a position to crush your windpipe merely by sitting his ass down.) Worse, I knew how it would look if I told the cops, my parents, and maybe even a judge and jury everything that happened: “Well, first we made out on the floor…” Who would believe me if I told them that I did not want him to do that, I did not ask him to do that, and I most certainly did not give him permission to do that?

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Not saying “no” does not equal “yes”. But pickup artists don’t teach you that, they teach you the opposite. “Make the ho say no” is just one of their many rapey mottoes. In fact, there is even such a thing in pickup artistry as “rape game”, and yes, that is exactly what you think it is. (Google it. And be sure to take your ulcer meds first.) The entire thing, in fact, is nothing BUT rape, because honesty is not a pickup artist’s strong suit, and especially not when you’re trying to up your notch count by any means possible.

Yes, Emma, nuance is a very important thing. And nowhere more so than in your black-and-white world of “rape rape” versus mere “pickup artistry”, eh?

It is profoundly important for both its relevancy and survival that feminism retain the ability to distinguish between the handsy jerk who pushes his luck on the dance floor, and a man who allegedly assaults women in the presence of a stuffed bear.

And then, to judge them accordingly.

Uh, Emma? In case you forget, Jian Ghomeshi did both. He was, by all accounts, both a pickup artist AND a violator of the law. There is no rule saying you can’t be both. In fact, there is no rule that you can’t smoothly segue from the one to the other. Feminists have long understood that. It’s time you did the same.

And Maclean’s? Yeah, you suck too for publishing this rag-load of hog snot. But I won’t be holding my breath for you to improve. You’ve been full of crap-ass suckitude for the longest time. Nearly ten years ago, as I recall, you published a fluffy, uncritical feature on PUAs, portraying them merely as a titillating, mildly goofy bunch of totally awesome he-men. That article nauseated me then, and still does now. Seems you haven’t yet twigged to the fact that they are, in reality, all scungy-ass woman-haters. Particularly one of your profilees, the PUA who called himself Gunwitch — who turns out to be not only a would-be “ladykiller”, but a bona fide aspiring lady-killer, too.

PUA coaches are worse than the slimiest snake oil salesman. They are not a source of hope for the socially awkward; quite the opposite, actually. Their methods don’t work, except to lure unwary males. And among those poor saps there is many a ticking time bomb. Who can forget the “sexual frustration” of that poor ignored virgin, Elliot Rodger? When he failed to pick up anyone, he churned out a misogynous “manifesto”, then went on a murderous, suicidal rampage.

No, PUAs are not funny. Nor are they harmless. And they are most certainly not a separate entity from violent, even murderous abusers. On the contrary, they are all on the same continuum. It is a question of degree, not kind.

And since Maclean’s has abdicated its social responsibility to make that connection, I guess it’s little wonder that I haven’t read them in years…and don’t feel like I’ve missed out in the least. They’ve sold out information in favor of titillation, and thrown women under the bus. None of them has any business telling Canadian women how to do feminism, because none of them know how the hell to do journalism.

The German sex trade’s leading lobbyists, unmasked

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Johanna Weber and Fabienne Freymadl, two leading “spokespersons” for the recently-assembled German “sex workers’ movement”. Who are they, and what lies behind them? EMMA investigated, and found the following:

In the middle of the summer, BILD.de came out with the provocative headline: “These Whores are Government Advisors”. And then readers who were so inclined found out that the “whores”, Johanna Weber (46) and Fabienne Freymadl (35) were regarded as “specialists” in conjunction with a proposed change to prostitution laws in the capital city. They took part in “several informative background talks”, “met various political specialists from the CDU/CSU, SPD, Green and Left parties, and telephone regularly with them” (BILD). Apparently they have a particularly good connection with Eva Högl (SPD party representative), Ulrike Bahr (SPD family policy specialist), and the Greens, Volker Beck and Hans-Christian Ströbele.

Johanna Weber, the political spokeswoman of the so-called “Berufsverband erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen e.V.” [Trade Union of Erotic and Sexual Services, Inc.], also advised the federal family ministry at their prostitution hearing on June 12, 2014. “The politicians often come to us with supposedly good ideas, but those mostly don’t fit with the realities of the branch,” she reveals. She apparently knows what fits.

But does she fit? Let’s start with the fact that Johanna Weber’s real name is Verena Johannsen. Her specialties as a dominatrix are “Schweinereien” [literally “piggeries”]: “Natursekt” (“natural champagne”, or “golden showers” — urinating on men), “Caviar” (defecating on men, sometimes directly in the mouth), or “Facefarting”.

This sort of job is actually new for Weber/Johannsen herself. The front-woman of the “union” for “sex workers”, founded just last year, has been, by her own account, on the job for just four years. Before that, the professional distance runner taught sports, was an active sports marketer, and organized women’s runs, for example at the Lesbian Beach Festival. Politically, too, the dominatrix seems to be engaged in women’s and leftist causes. By her own account she donates five percent of her income, mostly to “sex worker” organizations like Hydra, but also to ATTAC or Terre des Femmes.

The positions Weber/Johannsen subscribes to regarding prostitution law sound correspondingly politically and movement-experienced. Not from below the belt, but stepping high. Like the 23-page “Position Paper on the ‘Regulation of Prostitution'” for the federal family ministry. The introduction reads:

“We apologize that we did not submit our position paper on the expected deadline date of June 2, 2014. June 2, the International Whores’ Day, is a day of remembrance for the whores’ movement. On that day in 1975, French sex workers went on strike and occupied a church in Lyon, in order to defend themselves against police brutality and lingering discrimination. This event is the watershed of the worldwide whores’ movement. We hereby dedicate our position paper to these brave colleagues.”

Colleagues? The in fact very brave prostitutes of Lyon, unfortunately, can’t defend themselves. Because they don’t know Johanna Weber, and have no idea what is being done in their name. If they knew, they would surely not allow it.

Starting with the label “whore”. “Nous ne sommes pas des putes!” goes their slogan, with which they took to the street at the time, shoulder to shoulder with feminists who had travelled from Paris to accompany and support their protest. “We are not whores!”, but persons. The women of Lyon fought then for their rights — and not those of pimps and brothel owners.

That’s what Weber and her colleagues are doing with their “union”, founded on October 13, 2013. But who are they really?

In a wobbly photo taken at the founding, there are some thirty women, many of them hidden, plus one man. Since then, the same half-dozen people keep popping up on talk shows and at events, saying what fun it is to prostitute oneself, and making the case for the recognition of prostitution as a “profession like any other”.

These women have names like Undine, Amber or Fabienne, and are often current or former dominatrices in the BDSM field. Some are now running BDSM “studios”, in which they work together or have other women working for them.

Across from them are an estimated 400,000 women who work as prostitutes. Some 70 percent (estimated by the pro-prostitution front) to 98 percent (police estimate) are migrants, and as a rule come from the poorest Eastern European countries. The dommes from the “union”, therefore, speak for maybe two percent of German prostitutes. But even among these, many see it differently than these politically-correct “sex workers” do. All the same, this atypical, vanishingly small minority has been the front-row conversation partner of politics, and apparently the only voice for the prostitutes.

But these “specialists” don’t represent in any way the interests of the prostituted, but rather those of pimps and brothel owners — even those of the human traffickers, in that they minimize or cover up their roles in the prostitution industry.

One can read as much in the 23-page position paper for the women’s ministry from June 12, too. It reads like the work of experienced jurists. Here, the legalistic argumentation speaks not of the interests of women in prostitution, but that of the sex industry, which has long been hand-in-glove with organized crime.

The position paper pushes the “decriminalization of sex work”. But for whom? Women and men in prostitution have not been punished in Germany for years. The only ones who are still punishable are those who trade women as wares: the pimps and brothel owners. And the position paper of the “sex workers” contains almost nothing but demands to decriminalize these woman-traders. They speak out against raising the legal prostitution age to 21, against mandatory health checks, and against mandatory condom use. They also demand that the punitive laws against pimping be struck without replacement, as well as those on exploitation of prostitutes, and youth-endangering prostitution. The “sex workers” want the police to stay out of the business altogether. That would be a “disruption of business”. So, free rein for the pimps and human traffickers.

The “union” is calling for state-sponsored “entry counselling” for prostitution, and “development”. What kinds of practices are involved in that “development”, can be seen on the “union” website: The “sex workers” are against abolishing flat-rate prostitution and “gang bangs” (simulated gang rape). It couldn’t get any more cynical.

The “union” is also working toward total deregulation of prostitution in Germany, as well as furthering its spread. So, the lady “sex workers” are, plainly and simply, lobbyists for the prostitution industry. And they are no longer even taking the trouble to hide it.

On June 30, 2014, Johanna Weber wrote in the name of the union to “Dear Madame Minister Schwesig”. In her letter, she congratulated the minister responsible for prostitution on her “political and juristic separation of the subjects of human trafficking and prostitution”, as well as her “participative efforts to include sex workers”.

All of that was already more than enough. But Weber didn’t sign the letter alone. A fellow signatory is Holger Rettig, a representative of the very un-transparent “Unternehmerverbandes Erotikgewerbe Deutschland e.V.” [Erotic Enterprises Chamber of Commerce of Germany, Inc.]. The organization was founded in 2007, and according to Rettig, a former boxing trainer, it has 170 members. But other than himself, none of them has appeared publicly. The brothel-owners’ association and the prostitutes’ “union” are lobbying shoulder-to-shoulder for a convenient law. That would be as if a business association and a workers’ union were to band together. The concept of a “union” label, then, is a pure lie.

At the end of September, these two organizations, along with the BuFAS (Bündnis für Sexarbeiterinnen und Sexarbeiter; in English, “Union for Sex Workers”), will be holding a sex-work congress in Berlin, titled “Sex Work in Movement Times”. The three-day get-together is organized by Johanna Weber, front woman of the “union”, member of the “whores’ project” Hydra, and advisor to BuFAS. According to announcement, at the congress will discuss “concrete measures to improve working conditions” and “the future viability of the field”. Goal: “A basis for political decisions”.

On the first day, one of the model dommes, Undine de Rivière, will take the podium at Humboldt University alongside female politicians of all parties. Says Rivière: “I’ve been a sex worker for 20 years, but I don’t know a single victim.”

The keynote speaker will be Henny Engels, from the German Women’s Ministry, the umbrella organization of all established women’s organizations (from political parties, churches, professional organizations, etc.). To the amazement of all other European umbrella organizations, in December 2012 the German Women’s Ministry was the only women’s organization that did not sign the “Brussels Call” for abolition of prostitution.

And BuFAS? Alice Schwarzer’s book, Prostitution: A German Scandal has analyzed in which measure these state-financed “whores’ projects”, such as Hydra, Madonna and Kassandra, which head up BuFAS, have become lobbyists for the sex trade. The “whores’ projects” campaign overwhelmingly for entry into prostitution, instead of for exit. And this, although some of them are receiving money from the federal women’s ministry’s model project for exit. A look at their websites tells the story. For example, Kassandra’s website is headed with the slogan: “Prostitution was, is and always will be part of our sexual culture.”

Prostitution and human trafficking bring in a lot of money. A whole lot. Not only millions in state monies, but billions of euros change hands; in Germany in 2013 alone, according to the federal statistics agency, some 14.6 billion euros. And the profit rates are up to 1,000 percent. Drug and weapons traffickers can only dream of that.

So the lobbyists are not lacking in power or money for fancy websites, juristically savvy position papers, and congresses. In contrast, there are hundred-thousands of nameless, bitterly poor prostitutes, whose earnings lie below minimum wage and who, in most cases, can’t even speak German.

But oh yes, who is Fabienne Freymadl, the second “whore” advising women politicians in Berlin? The 35-year-old coms from arch-Catholic Freising [a suburb of München, in Bayern], where even the German Pope has long seemed blessed, and is, according to her own statements, a “sadist out of passion”, which often comes up in those circles. Freymadl performs as “Firelilly” at parties, including “burlesque dancing” or “children’s face-painting”. Or she plays the golden angel on stilts at Christmas markets. Cute, eh?

As a domme, the multi-faceted Freymadl is stricter, though. She specializes in pain-infliction (“Your suffering makes my eyes sparkle.”). Her specialty is a “dungeon with authentic atmosphere”. There, her clients can submit to “dungeon rules”, be interrogated, chained up and tortured, sometimes for twelve hours or even longer. Perhaps some ladies and gentlemen politicians from the capital should take a tour there sometime?

Sure, some women might really enjoy torturing men. Usually, something like that is just called man-hating. That these man-haters gladly let men pay them for that is understandable. But that they offer themselves as political lobbyists for the sex trade at the expense of hundred-thousands of women — that goes too far. Someone should put a stop to that. And soon!

Translation mine.

Aside from the “man-hating” bit, which is editorializing on the part of the author (and may or may not in fact be true), the most egregiously humiliating linguistic slams here come from the oh-so-politically-correct “sex workers’ union” leaders themselves. (You’ll notice I put that in quotation marks; there is a reason for that, and if the EMMA article doesn’t article make clear why, then just keep reading.) “Whores”, they “proudly” call themselves? Well, so much for those who claim that prudish feminists are the ones perpetuating the hurtful old “whore stigma” — here, it is none other than the so-called “sex workers” themselves! The prostitutes of Lyon, supported by feminists from Paris, made it clear in their protests that they are NOT “whores”, they are PEOPLE, and deserving of dignified treatment. The ongoing use of that false word (oddly, alongside the vague and whitewashy term, “sex work”), in an ahistoric denial of what the Lyon uprising stood for, is a gross insult to any woman in prostitution who has ever stood up for her own humanity. And it gets grosser.

In the economically depressed lands of Eastern Europe, where most of the women and girls in the brothels were trucked in from, that word is the most humiliating in the entire, extensive vocabulary of misogyny. In Moldova, a leading source point for trafficked prostitutes, poverty is so bad, and patriarchy so deeply entrenched, that the first pimps the girls get are their own male relatives. “Whore, go out and make money!” is the thing they hear when, upon turning a certain age (generally given as 15 or 16), they are turned out to work. Work, that is, in foreign countries, where they are taken by mafiosi with tentacles all over Europe, to German mega-bordellos where clients pay a flat rate for unlimited “sex” (note the quotes; obviously, enthusiastic consent is NOT on the menu). And where the management looks the other way, not only when it comes to the shadowy origins of their supply chain, but also when it comes to the use of condoms, state-mandated health checks, etc. Numerous mega-brothels have been shuttered due to violations of the health and safety code. Which, in Germany, is enforced from time to time, but not nearly often enough to be meaningful to the women who must work the brothels night and day, for what amounts to sub-minimum wages once their room fees and other “expenses” are subtracted. The brothel owners have set up a tidy profit-making enterprise for themselves, so it stands to reason that they will do anything, not only to keep it going, but to make it even more profitable.

And that’s where the hastily-clapped-up “sex workers’ union” comes in.

Now, an actual prostitutes’ union would, one should think, fight the bosses tooth and nail for better working conditions for the employees. It would be headed by those actually working in the field, instead of arcane “specialists” in the decidedly minority ranks of the BDSM dommes. Nobody elected these women, “Johanna Weber” and “Fabienne Freymadl” (the latter’s pseudonymous surname means “free girl” in the Bavarian dialect, and most girls in prostitution are anything but free.) And since nobody elected them, they represent nobody’s interests, as far as the 400,000 prostitutes in Germany are concerned. The “union” leaders are not only not fighting for the “workers”, they are actively sweeping their concerns under the rug, minimizing and whitewashing all the day-to-day horrors and miseries the women and girls must suffer.

And worse, these “whore” lobbyists are all working to abolish even the minimal, inadequate workplace protections the prostitutes receive, in order to protect — whom? Well, considering who they really work for, that’s obvious: the traffickers. Because who else could possibly benefit from prostitutes being completely without protection by the state, the health authorities, and the police? And who else would be so keen to mount such a massive whitewashing campaign?

The johns are already protected by law and social convention, after all. The worst thing they might come away from the brothels with, aside from a vague, nagging sensation of emptiness (and not so much about the wallet, either; remember, those joints are flat-rate, and the rates are dirt cheap), is a dose of some sexually-transmitted disease or other. German society is all too happy to shrug and look the other way; some non-prostituted women even express “relief” that “those women” exist, because then their husbands and boyfriends and bosses won’t pester THEM with sexual demands they can’t or don’t want to fulfill. And there is also the unspoken “relief” that the “whores” act as a kind of “escape valve” for the imaginary “pent-up head of steam” that would otherwise turn a “sexually frustrated” man into a rapist.

All of this is implicit in the idea of the “whores’ project”, that odiously named bit of legalistic chicanery that, quite conveniently, benefits not a single one of the estimated 400,000 women, most of them Eastern European, in Armutsprostitution — that wonderful German word meaning “poverty prostitution”. There are no “Happy Hookers” there; nobody makes that kind of money. What little is left after the brothels extort their “room rent”, most of it goes back to the old country, to support relatives (mostly male) who are out of work thanks to the fall of the socialist bloc. The benefit to the woman is almost nil, and the German economy on the whole sees little of it, either. The tax collectors, like the police, tend to look the other way as long as all the papers are in order and the cheques are sent in on time. The lion’s share of the profits goes to those who run the brothels — and the trafficking networks that supply the “sex workers”.

I’ve long thought that what some call “sex work” should rightly be called SEX CAPITALISM, because in fact, that’s what it is. And these few “specialists”, like the two in the picture above, who speak for far fewer than 1% of women in the sex industry as a whole, should quit calling themselves “workers”, because their “unions” are literally and figuratively in bed with the bosses. (They should call themselves the Point-Zero-Zero-One-Percenters, really.) The only analogous situation that comes to my mind is that of Venezuela just before and during the coup of ’02, when the country’s corrupt trade-union congress, the CTV, actively got in bed with FEDECAMARAS, the umbrella organization of the Venezuelan chambers of commerce, to try to topple a democratically elected president. Real union workers, who were overwhelmingly pro-Chávez, got so upset with the CTV that they ended up ditching it and forming a new organization, the UNT, whose leadership was free of unelected toadies like Carlos Ortega, and which actually represented the workers’ concerns before the state. (Not surprisingly, the crooked CTV was heavily aligned with the interests of another big bunch of shadow-dwelling pimps: USAID, and the CIA.)

I don’t know if Germany’s prostitutes (most of whom are not German, and barely even speak the language) will ever get to doing what the Venezuelan trade unionists did — namely, kick out these corrupt “spokespeople” who speak for no one. Somehow, I doubt they will ever gain the power to do that; their non-citizen status and economic vulnerability keep them in chains. But the German state can do something about it, and as the EMMA article points out, it is high time that they should. Starting, of course, with a purging of “pro-business” elements across the board from the halls of power. Lobbying, after all, is the legalized form of corruption.

The German model for “regulating” prostitution is clearly failing the very women it was ostensibly designed to protect. And if the pimp lobby gets its way, there will soon be no regulations left at all. It is time to replace that defective model with something else that works.

Right next door to Germany, the Dutch are having a lot of second thoughts about their liberal prostitution laws, and this due to precisely the same conditions that prevail in Germany: organized crime running the whole show. What was once the free domain of independent women just making a living, is now the Mafia’s game. And the response is the last thing the liberalization advocates expected: Amsterdam shuttered hundreds of its famous red-light district “windows”, where prostitutes used to sit in their scanty lingerie, waiting for clients, in 2007. The city has also raised its legal age for first-time prostitutes to 21. All this and more because the Dutch are being inundated with cheap, disposable female flesh from Eastern Europe, the very sort of thing that used to plague Sweden. That is, until someone there decided to consult with actual Swedish prostitutes, to find out what they thought and felt. The result of that extensive consultation? The Swedish “sex purchase” law, which has since been adopted also in Norway, Finland and Iceland, making it truly a Nordic model. Now the Dutch, too, are tentatively looking into it. The Europarliament has approved it. And even France has adopted something similar. Why is that model so popular? Because it works. It reduces harm for women in the sex trade. And it enables them to exit at their own chosen moment, too.

What? A prostitution law written, if not literally by prostitutes, then certainly FOR them? By those who actually listened to them, and heard their concerns, and consulted them every step of the way? Police that protect the women, not the pimps, traffickers and johns? Social welfare agencies helping women get out of prostitution, and not into it, as the pimp lobby — oh sorry, “sex workers’ unions” — of Germany would have them do?

Heresy!

Quotable: Winona LaDuke on water terrorism

Sex: Made in Germany, but for whom?

germany-paradise

“Germany, a paradise for johns and human traffickers.” Photo: EMMA.

Once again, the German prostitution industry comes under a harsh spotlight — one that it thoroughly deserves, in my unhumble opinion. This time, it’s a documentary film that exposes its unattractive innards:

Sometimes, in the face of empty talk shows, trashy afternoon soaps, brainless shows and earnest magazine features in the midnight hours, a well-meaning person might ask oneself what right the public channels have to charge such high rates. And then there are occasional moments that make it all worthwhile. One of them is the extensively researched NDR reportage, “Sex — Made in Germany”, which will be shown this Monday. What the film tells is the story of a shattering — namely, that of legalized prostitution.

The goal of the 2002 law was to give prostitutes rights, and free them from dependence on criminal gangs. It was a “red-green” (Social Democratic Party/Green Party) reform project that partially achieved these goals. Prostitution would no longer be morally offensive, but from then on, treated (and taxed) like a totally normal profession. But that is what it is simply not, even though the creators of parallel worlds of speech came up with such silly concepts as “sex workers”. Journalists Sonia Kennebeck and Tina Soliman researched the results of the legalization, and what they found is disturbing: “The good intention of empowering prostitutes through legislation has turned into its opposite. Woman has become a resource, to be used as efficiently as possible. Outside of this transactional business, however, she loses all worth.”

Germany, according to the film, has become Europe’s bordello. Men come in droves from Japan, the US, and even strictly-moralistic Arabia to have their fun. 30,000 visitors a month come to Köln’s mega-bordello, “Pascha”. One part of the film shows some johns on hidden camera, sizing up the meat market in a big bordello, and one doesn’t have to be overly moralistic to feel that one has stepped into Dante’s Inferno.

The proprietors of such places are no longer tattooed hoodlums, but rather they see themselves as businessmen following the laws of the marketplace, of supply and demand. What the men prattle on about sounds like a shrill parody of the snake-oil promises of neoliberalism. The “press spokesman” of a bordello whines about statist regulation, even though the regulations have almost all disappeared. The owner of an Internet sex exchange says: “We see ourselves as a lifestyle marketplace.” The client, male or female, can rate the offerings with stars, like a reader with a book on Amazon.com. There are exchanges where the highest bidder can buy sex with virgins, pregnant women, or without a condom. If a prostitute is out of luck, and the auction goes badly for lack of demand, she might have to spend a night with two guys who pay her three euros. All of this was more or less illegal prior to 2001.

Flat discount rates are also very popular. The law was supposed to give the women back their dignity. That hasn’t happened. In the free-market atmosphere of the German sex industry, they are just interchangeable wares, and replaceable at any time. Kennebeck and her cameraman, Torsten Lapp, also travelled to Romania, where many of these women came from, and what they found out there, reveals all talk of free will and free markets as what it really is: a lie.

More than half the prostitutes of a flat-rate bordello in Berlin come from Romania and Bulgaria, and few of them knew what was waiting for them in Germany. The owner, again a total marketing man, tells the camera: “These women are just more engaged, because they’re new in the business. Let’s just say they can take more abuse.”

A Romanian woman named Sorana tells how the pimps lured her to Germany. She knew that she wouldn’t be working as a babysitter, that it had to do with sex. She didn’t know that she would be on call, like a slave, in a flat-rate bordello for up to 40 johns a day: “Some nights I only had two or three hours’ sleep. I couldn’t refuse any client. It was awful.” They were “treated like trash”: Many of these women, says Tina Soliman, “were kidnapped, emotionally manipulated, forced into prostitution in Germany”. That is, naturally, still illegal, but no brothel owner sees himself in any way responsible: “Not my job,” says one, as long as the papers are in order. He has so many women working for him, how should he run a background check every time? That’s the state’s job.

And the state is very interested in the red-light palaces, that have lured sex tourists to Germany as they previously did for Thailand. The inspectors don’t want to know, however, what human dramas play out here. They cash in heavily, even from streetwalkers. The women are the ones who have to pay. When asked why the johns aren’t taxed, the man from Stuttgart city hall says: “Well, we don’t know him, the john.”

The makers of this great film reveal all this without pathos, or even accusations. They judge no one, hold no morality lectures. They only tell it like it is. And yet, their pictures show a world that no society would wish for itself. Good intentions are always simple. But the world that they are meant to change is unfortunately not.

Translation mine.

This comes at a crucial juncture for Canada, as three old prostitution laws have been struck down in Ontario and the debate is now on as to how (or whether) to replace them, and with what. Several so-called “sex workers’ rights” groups claim that any laws governing pimps and johns constitute de facto criminalization of the prostitutes, who are mostly (but not always) women and girls.

But are they? The liberal German laws, which purport to decriminalize prostitution and dignify the lives of the prostituted, have clearly had the opposite effect. Organized crime has stepped in, using the mantle of legitimacy to conduct its unsavory business at ever greater profits to the mafias, and ever greater costs to the women and girls they have imported, most of them from the poorest parts of Eastern Europe. And with zero accountability to the state, which is supposed to protect the prostitutes.

And yet, we are meant to understand this as “a job (or profession) just like any other”. What other jobs and professions are governed by the bosses of organized crime syndicates? And what other jobs and professions have the government looking the other way, except to tax the workers — milking that cash cow twice?

And that cow does get milked. Not so far back, EMMA had a piece on the horrors of the flat-rate brothels, where men pay a shockingly small fee for unlimited sex. No time limit, no limit on the number of women he can use — and often, no limit on what he can do to them, either. Again, the women are imported from Eastern Europe…because as Kajsa Ekis Ekman found (and I translated), there is never enough home-grown “talent” to supply the ravenous demand, and because the local girls aren’t as willing to put up with abusive or dangerous practices.

Yes, there are some freelance prostitutes, and even a fortunate few who have made a good living on their own terms that way, but the trafficked ones grossly outnumber them. Because, go figure, most women (cisgender or trans), and gay men too, have difficulty overcoming their distaste for sex with strangers they don’t actually want to have sex with. And money, strangely, doesn’t always mitigate that.

Much less when organized crime is holding the purse strings, and the state is looking the other way…except, of course, at tax time.

Dear AP: You suck, too.

Ahem…a little mood music, maestro:

Further to last night’s (now amended) piece on how badly Reuters gets Venezuela wrong, it looks like the Associated Press (or Dissociated Press, as I prefer to call them) is no better. Aporrea columnist Ivana Cardinale takes them to task:

Miguel Rodríguez Torres, the new minister of Interior Relations and Justice, informed the country on Thursday morning of the capture of a US citizen named Timothy Hallett Tracy.

According to the minister, Tracy is linked to a right-wing conspiracy against Venezuela, and its objective was to lead us into a civil war and so provoke immediate intervention on the part of a foreign power. He added that he has documents and videos as proof.

The US daily, The Washington Post, immediately published an article from the Associated Press agency, which should really be called the Associated Pentagon, since many of us know that it is the propaganda arm of the Pentagon. In it, the family of the detainee says that he is an “innocent filmmaker”, who is in Venezuela to make a documentary.

According to the detainee’s father, his son is a graduate of Georgetown University, who majored in English, and has been “filming” for the past year in Venezuela.

The AP article indicates that the gringo detainee made a documentary in 2009 called “American Harmony”, and another documentary, recently filmed, called “Under Siege”, for the Discovery Channel. Both documentaries were directed and produced by one Aengus James, not Timothy Tracy. Once more, AP lies. The name of Timothy Hallett Tracy appears nowhere on the Internet in connection to the filming of one or both of the documentaries.

I searched the Internet for information on him, and the only thing that appeared was his detention in Venezuela. As for the rest, no information on Tracy anywhere. Nothing on documentaries or films by this US citizen. If he is a filmmaker, as they say, there would be information on the Web over his work, and as I said, it does not exist.

The strange thing is that “Under Siege” was broadcast in the US one month ago, in March, by the Discovery Channel. If we take AP at its word that Timothy Hallett Tracy filmed that documentary, how could Tracy, who according to his father, has been filming in Venezuela for the past year, be making films in two different countries at the same time?

These little details betray an intent to conceal. It is evident that this is a CIA operation in Venezuela which uses the AP news agency to publish false information over Tracy, claiming him to be producer and director of two documentaries which in reality were made by Aengus James.

500 videos were seized in the raid. The AP agency says that Tracy was detained twice in Venezuela before April 14 and let go. What AP doesn’t say is that Timothy Hallett Tracy belongs to an intelligence agency, has been trained in these matters, received foreign financing, which was later passed on to young Venezuelans hungry for dollars, who came from the extreme right wing, with the objective to generate violent incidents and provoke a civil war.

Translation mine.

BTW, I looked up Aengus James. He is a real person, and he is a real filmmaker. He’s on Twitter. Here’s an interview he gave about his film, American Harmony, which is a documentary on barbershop quartets. He doesn’t look much like Tim Tracy. If I had to guess at his politics, from his tweets (which reference Paul Krugman), I would say he’s a liberal Democrat — hardly the sort of guy who’d want to hang out with a bunch of overt fascists like JAVU. His work doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that would inspire the CIA to tap him as a front man for one of their operations, either. And I don’t think he’d be at all impressed to hear that his films have been attributed by an agency as big and prominent as the AP to this Tim Tracy guy.

So, AP, what the hell is your explanation for all this? And please, make it a good one. I can hardly wait to hear how you got these two guys so badly mixed up.

Dear Reuters: Is this enough proof for you?

timothy-hallet

Dear Reuters: You fail so hard at journalism…

Venezuela has detained an American citizen it says was financing opposition student demonstrations after this month’s disputed presidential election, the latest in a flurry of accusations over last week’s post-vote violence.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said Timothy Hallet Tracy had been seeking to destabilize the country on behalf of an unnamed U.S. intelligence agency after President Nicolas Maduro’s narrow presidential victory.

“We detected the presence of an American who began developing close relations with these (students),” said Rodriguez in a press conference. “His actions clearly show training as an intelligence agent, there can be no doubt about it. He knows how to work in clandestine operations.”

Rodriguez said Tracy, 35, from Michigan, had received financing from a foreign non-profit organization and had redirected those funds toward student organizations. The ultimate aim was to provoke “civil war,” he said.

A U.S. embassy official had no immediate comment.

The government has given scant evidence for a flurry of headline-grabbing accusations ranging from an assassination plot against Maduro to alleged sabotage of the electricity grid.

…because this is the real story, and your version is laughable even on the surface of it:

The minister for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, informed on Thursday of the capture of a US citizen, Timothy Hallett Tracy, linked to a conspiracy of the far-right against Venezuelan democracy.

The actions of Timothy Hallett Tracy are related to groups of the far right who are attempting to destabilize the country with attacks in the street following the presidential elections of April 14.

The minister stated that the objective of the plan is to generate chaos throughout the country with the creation of a violent post-election scenario in order to make it ungovernable.

“it is important to inform the people over situations which are occurring; we will show the motivations and connections they have in order to develop a series of events which we have been living through ever since the night after the elections of April 14,” said Rodríguez Torres, in a press conference.

The minister stated that as of October, November and December of 2012, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) had been conducting investigations into an operation called “April Connection”.

“All the indicators we have been gathering indicated that we would arrive at election day with complete normality, but following the release of the results by the National Electoral Council (CNE), there was to be a non-recognition on the part of the right-wing candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski,” Rodríguez Torres explained.

He added that during the investigations they managed to detect a person of US origin, who had formed close relations with right-wing youth who were members of the so-called “Operation Sovereignty”.

“When we detected this relationship, we began to conduct surveillance and stakeouts, and we saw how this man was able to infiltrate revolutionary groups to gain their protection, but had intimate relations with the extreme right wing,” Rodríguez Torres said. He commented that it is presumed that this US citizen belonged to an intelligence organization, and had received financing from various foreign NGOs.

Rodríguez Torres explained that the objective of Operation April Connection was to generate mobilizations following the release of the results of the presidential vote, and to conduct a civil war.

“Their objective was that, to lead us into a civil war, and we have the documents proving that they exchanged [information] amongst themselves by way of some [computer] chips, which a messenger brought from the Plaza La Castellana to the home of the ‘gringo’,” Rodríguez Torres said.

He informed that, according to this right-wing sector, the idea was to launch a civil war in Venezuela and thus immediately provoke intervention from a foreign power.

“These were their desired ends, and they continue to be. We have more than 500 videos which we seized during a raid. We asked ourselves: Do the ordinary householders who voted for the opposition want a civil war, or do the Venezuelan taxi drivers want that? We are sure that nobody in this land, independent of their position, wants that, except these extremist groups, directed by extremists of the parties of the right who do want civil war,” he added.

During his press conference, the minister showed a video in which it is evident that retired general Antonio Rivero is passing instructions to guarimberos [insurrectionary right-wing demonstrators, presumably “students”] in the upper class district of Altamira, telling them how to create disturbances.

All the proofs seized during the raid, which took place on Wednesday night, were brought to the appropriate authorities.

Rodríguez Torres said that, thanks to the work of intelligence agents, the national government was able to act in time to continue to guarantee peace for the people of Venezuela.

“The President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro, has emphasized that in this country, we will always go the way of peace and coexistence. That has to be an effort made by all Venezuelans, independent of their ideological and political posture. We must reject and isolate these fascist factors who live among us, and who are trying to get us Venezuelans to hate and kill one another. We cannot allow that,” he insisted.

Translation mine.

BTW, O Reuters gurus, I have your “scant evidence” right here. And, spoiler alert, it ain’t so “scant”:

You’ll have to wait till the 6:50 mark or thereabouts, but yeah, the proof is there, and yeah, it’s substantial. Video evidence that Tim Tracy has been meeting with the druggy, drinky, dollar-hungry JAVU punks (whose terrorist manifesto I’ve already translated and discussed here.) That’s one of 500 videos shot by the perps themselves, all taken into custody by the SEBIN agents as evidence of their plot. JAVU and Tracy are, in short, thoroughly fucked. As is a certain ex-general who also appears in the video, advising the punks on how to organize:

Ah yes, the peaceful, democratic Venezuelan opposition. So credible. And their gringo spook candy-man. So innocent. Meanwhile, there’s about 500 videos, all shot by themselves, to attest the opposite.

Yeah, that’s “scant” evidence, all right.

Hey, Reuters? Maybe you should learn some Spanish. And maybe learn journalism too, while you’re at it. At the very least, try learning how not to sleep through a fucking press conference. Okay?

Note: This entry has been amended following release of a longer, better version of last night’s Aporrea story.

Once again, shoddy journalism from the Schloppenheimer

schloppenheimer

If you ever wonder why I don’t think very highly of Andrés Oppenheimer, the Miami Horrid’s little scribbler of untruths and inanities on all things Venezuela, maybe this will provide you some clues. He is, among other things, a rude and disingenuous little shit:

Venezuelan deputy and now chargé d’affaires to the United States, Calixto Ortega, debunked the false accusations of Argentine journalist Andrés Oppenheimer against the revolutionary government and President Nicolás Maduro.

“You made statements which don’t correspond to reality, maybe you’re misinformed,” said the parliamentarian, addressing Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer, upon being “blown away” by Ortega, cut the interviewee’s audio, and made excuses, saying: “A public apology to Venezuelan deputy Calixto Ortega for Skype being down when we were talking.”

The video was shown by the host of VTV’s “Dossier”, Walter Martínez, who commented: “How nice — another worthy example of the garbage of Fox News and CNN, that Señor Oppenheimer.”

Translation mine.

Here’s the video of that:

See, this is why journalism is going downhill in the Northern Hemisphere. They don’t have enough people like Walter Martínez, who is honest and courteous, and never makes excuses…because he never HAS to. Instead, we up here get a whole slew of drecky Schloppenheimers.

And that, gentle reader, is why you won’t know shit about Venezuela as long as you trust the media up here.

Headline Howler: It’s always opposite day at The Economist

economist-bad-covers

Ugh, how disgraceful. Don’t you people hire fact-checkers anymore? It’s not like you don’t have the cash…although at this rate, you may soon lose so much readership that you end up in serious financial trouble. Here, let me fix that for you:

economist-fixed-covers

Much better!

Festive Left Friday Blogging: El Ecuadorable is full of win

You can’t keep a good president down…or shut him up. And why would you want to, when he empowers his own people to speak out, too? Especially not when he just won a very important prize for doing just that?

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will receive a journalism prize on December 4 in Argentina from a public university.

The Directing Council of the Faculty of Journalism and Social Communication of the National University of La Plata resolved unanimously to present Correa with the Rodolfo Walsh Prize in the category of “Latin American president for popular communication”.

The distinction, which has already been awarded to the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, as well as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, will be presented to Correa on December 4 in La Plata, 50 kilometres south of the capital, Buenos Aires.

The Directing Council emphasized the role of Correa in the process of cultural and social change in Latin America “since the political decision of the States and the peoples to break with the logic of neoliberalism, in favor of inclusive and popular politics in all ambits — fundamentally, in the area of communication.”

The Directing Council added that “for decades, owing to the concentration of media in few hands”, social organizations “did not have a chance for their voices to circulate and be heard”.

“The Ecuadorian political project, headed by Correa, proposes precisely the opposite: offer tools to the poor and marginalized sectors of society for speaking out and telling their own stories.”

The council’s communiqué also emphasizes the “deepening of democratic quality” in Ecuador, the incorporation of communication as a human right in the new national constitution, the participation of the Ecuadorian government in the creation of the international news network Telesur, and the new laws on media and communications currently before the National Assembly.

“Rafael Correa is one of the current protagonists in the battle against hegemonic will, which is attempting to restrict speech and, by way of that, individual and social subjects,” the resolution added.

Translation mine.

Well. Fancy that. And here the anglo whore media keep telling us that Correa is silencing and restricting free speech and yadda-yadda-yadda. They lied to us again. Imagine that! You’d almost think they were a mouthpiece for corporate interests themselves, eh?

And in case you wonder if this wasn’t just some politically motivated prize, here are some facts about the man it was named for:

Rodolfo Jorge Walsh (born on January 9, 1927 in Lamarque*) was an Argentine writer, considered the founder of investigative journalism. He is most famous for his Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta which he wrote the day before his murder, protesting that their economic policies were having an even greater effect on ordinary Argentines than their human rights abuses. He was murdered on March 25, 1977.

Rodolfo Walsh was a progressive of the Argentine left, murdered by the corporate-friendly fascist military junta for daring to exercise freedom of speech. If you think capitalists care a damn for freedom of speech, be warned: they want to limit it most severely. If they had their way, only the most elite of their designated mouthpieces would get it at all.

And in fact, that was the situation in all of Latin America until fairly recently, when all these Bolivarian presidents began to be elected and to change things. First Chavecito, then Evo, then Rafael Correa. They all began to allocate serious money for public, community and alternative media, and to collaborate on the Telesur network, which is Latin America’s answer to the corporatist crapaganda of CNN en Español. The result: an explosion of alternatives to the bullshit narrative of There Is No Alternative.

Or as Chavecito said in the opener to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: “Clearly there are other ways, and here in Latin America, we are proving it!”

Congratulations, Mashi Rafael.