Politics & Law
Deborah Jeane Palfrey is dead, apparently by her own hand. She had been convicted on April 20, after a years-long investigation, of counts including racketeering related to her D. C. area escort service.
I am stunned, and too saddened to say very much right now, but I echo Amanda Brooks when she asks whether the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers counts those who kill themselves after prolonged harassment and persecution.
- Radical Vixen's interview with Deborah Jeane Palfrey, conducted last August.
- Bound, Not Gagged's coverage of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's prosecution.
- Huffington Post's coverage of Palfrey's suicide.
And another political sex scandal. When will this ridiculous, hypocritical, tittering at salacious stories, political backstabbing bullshit end? WHEN?? Two notable Democrats "smeared" by sex scandals (does ANYONE out there smell Karl Rove??? Hello, it's an election year w/ the Democrats primed to win big), two young women just trying to earn a few bucks harassed by law enforcement. Wow, people like sex. Wow, older men will pay outrageous prices for sex with young, cute, white girls. Wow, a young cute white girl can make in ten minutes what her friends w/ straight jobs make in a day, or a week. Wow, politicians will use law enforcement, the media, and sex to smear one another. This shit is just getting sadder & sadder. Legalize ALL adult sex work. Make a national mandate to promote healthy sexuality as part of a national health care plan. Stop using sex as a weapon, period. And, please, PLEASE, stop all the salacious crap about politicians' sex lives. Can it be THAT hard to do??? Really???
No doubt many have heard this news, but I wanted to post these links:
It’s a giant step up from Spitzer and even from Jimmy Carter’s sweet disclosure, during the Clinton trials, “I have lust in my heart.”
There are some news ledes that you never expect to read. Case in point:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.
Generically, it's not that surprising to find a politician hiring call girls. But Spitzer always seemed to be a genuine straight arrow, or at least smart enough to not get caught up in a sordid scandal du jour. In a way, despite all the mistakes that Spitzer's made since he went from being Attorney General to Governor, it's a little disappointing to see him get caught in something so common.
Spitzer may be charged under the Mann Act, because he arranged for the prostitute to travel from NY to DC. This makes me sad. I hate the public outcry and tearful apologies for wrongdoing these sex scandals garner, and I supported Spitzer's ill-starred plan to give all NY residents driver's licenses. If only this were happening to John McCain.
The House of Lords has been debating the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. This is a government Bill that proposed amongst other measures to replace the words 'common prostitute' with 'every person', create a new offence of persistent loitering, and provide for mandatory 'rehabilitation', with a penalty of 72 hours detention. These provisions (except the first) were vigorously opposed by sex workers and their allies as well as many affected groups like probabtion officers.
When this was sent to committee, a number of private member's amendments were tabled.
1. To remove all provisions except the 'common prostitute' one.
2. To insert a new clause exempting two women with or without a maid from the definition of Brothel.
3. To make the purchase of sexual services a criminal offence as in Sweden.
Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, and Annette Nicholls
Those are the names of the five women, sex workers each one, who were murdered in 2006. I vividly remember attending the vigil here in New York in December of 2006 when their names were read among the many names of sex workers who had been killed that year.
Yesterday Stephen Wright was convicted of their murders. He will be sentenced today. He faces life in prison.
Angela K. Brown of the AP (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) brings us this orgasmic news:
FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal appeals court has overturned a Texas statute outlawing sex toy sales, leaving Alabama as the state with the strictest ban on such devices.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment on the right to privacy.
From this article in the Times, a list of 20 weird court cases, come the following sex-related ones ~ nearly half of them!
2. In 2005, a Brazilian woman sued her partner for failing to give her orgasms. The 31-year old woman from Jundiai asserted in her case that her 38-year old partner routinely ended sexual intercourse after he reached an orgasm. After a promising start the action ended in something of an anticlimax for the claimant when her case was rejected.
5. In 2005, the Massachusetts Appeals Court was asked to rule on when a sexual technique was dangerous. Early one morning, a man and woman in a long-term relationship were engaged in consensual intercourse. During the passionate event, and, without the man’s consent, the woman suddenly manoeuvred herself in a way that caused him to suffer a penile fracture. Emergency surgery was required. The court ruled that while “reckless” sexual conduct may be actionable, “merely negligent” conduct was not. It dismissed the man’s case.
How to kill the Matthew Shepard Act without really trying:
The Matthew Shepard Act passed the House of Representatives pretty easily, but it was in trouble at the Senate. The Senate's solution? Insert it into a Pentagon funding bill. (Yes, they really did this.) That got enough Republican suport to allow the bill to pass in the Senate. Here's the catch: Now, the combined bill can't get past the House. Two reasons: Conservative Republicans don't like the hate crimes provision and liberal Democrats don't like the military spending bill:
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was widely supported by Democrats and some moderate Senate Republicans. But because it was attached to a major defense policy bill that would have authorized more money for the Iraq war, many anti-war Democrats said they would oppose it.
''We don't have the votes,'' said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conference negotiations on the defense bill were ongoing. ''We're about 40 votes short, not four or six.''
So, they dropped the hate crimes provision in order to pass the spending bill.
Perversely, today I'm headed down to DC. Fortunately I'll be with teachers and union leadership folks and not with politicians.