Saturday, March 24, 2018

This sounds awfully familiar

The case study in this article is about Seattle but it points to a nationwide phenomenon much like what we've just watched play out regarding adult entertainment venues on Bourbon Street.
None of the men arrested, however, were charged with trafficking — only with promoting prostitution. At a sentencing hearing for one of the men who pled guilty, a King County prosecutor acknowledged that his office had no evidence of trafficking or forced behavior in any of these cases, according to court documents. “Trafficking requires some sort of coercive behavior, usually physical coercive behavior. And believe me, we looked hard at whether we had facts or not to file trafficking and it did not meet the standard,” prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff told the judge. He added that prosecutors could not prove that the man was guilty of promoting prostitution in the first degree, which consists of coercion or profiting from sex work. “We did not have the evidence in this case to file… Promoting 1,” Ernsdorff said, referring to the first-degree charge.

Global human rights groups like Amnesty International and World Health Organization have called for the decriminalization of adult sex work in an effort to reduce violence and discrimination against sex workers, and to cut down on the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Yet U.S. authorities are continuing to crack down — sometimes, as in the Seattle area, with the aid of nonprofit advocacy groups pressing for harsher enforcement. King County’s acceptance of funding with strings attached from an anti-prostitution advocacy group raises ethical questions about whether prosecutors’ judgement as impartial “ministers of justice” was impaired by their financial arrangement with Demand Abolition.
It's almost the same story.  A radical non-profit with political ties shapes policy that involves local, state, and federal law enforcement resources in an invasive, unconstitutional crackdown based on the "trafficking" false pretense. 

In New Orleans, this has been a high profile issue for months going back to the advent of the raids themselves (not to mention the propagandistic cheerleading from certain corners of the local media.) Prior to this week's council meeting, there were weeks and weeks of public discussion, protest, and engagement leading all the way through a heavily attended and highly publicized City Planning Commission hearing on the matter. And yet, when the matter came to them, many councilmembers, particularly the mayor-elect who sat among them appeared to know next to nothing about the very motion they were voting on let alone its larger context.

And so we land again on the old, stupid or lying question.  In the case of these elected authorities, I almost always tend toward the latter.  They assume we are too stupid to know the difference. Maybe they're right about that.

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